Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Speech by the Hon Michael Kirby at the Conference on Law Reform in Hong Kong: Does it Need Reform?

The Hon. Michael Kirby, retired judge of the High Court of Australia, recently gave a speech at a Hong Kong conference on the future of law reform where he talked about the reasons why law reform attempts seem to be at a standstill in many countries:

"If there is one significant lesson from this dialogue, it must be of the decline and fall (at least temporarily) of the full-time, professional, well resourced law reform agency. In Canada, the federal body created to perform the task has been abolished: not once but twice. In Ontario, where a major full-time institution, described by Patricia Hughes, long flourished, it has been replaced by a part-time body with a small budget. In several Australian states, a hybrid institute has replaced the earlier models, reliant on busy academics and robbed of significant public subventions. Even the Australian Law Reform Commission, despite the marked success of its implementation track record, has suffered serious blows to its personnel, facilities, programme and funding"

"So the question presented at the end of this dialogue is not how institutional law reform can be improved in Hong Kong, and elsewhere. It is whether full-time law reform agencies have any realistic part to play in the legal systems of common law countries. What are the reasons for the apparent rise in hostility to the Scarman idea [of full-time institutional law reform proposed in the UK in 1965]? If we can analyse them, we may well be able to overcome them and breathe fresh life into the concept of institutional law reform that looked so promising just 45 years ago"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:34 pm

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