Surrogacy, residential leasehold, driverless cars and smart contracts are all to be reviewed by the Law Commission.

These are just some of the 14 new project areas unveiled today as part of its 13th Programme of Law Reform, whittled down from a record 220 individual project ideas in the responses to its public consultation.

The Commission has focused on reforms which will reduce unfairness for the citizen and those which will help to enhance the UK’s competitiveness internationally following our exit from the European Union.

Working with experts and the public, the independent legal body will strive to make sure the law is modern, simple and fair as it makes its recommendations for reform.

Law Commission Chair and Court of Appeal judge Sir David Bean said:

“Our 13th Programme of Law Reform attracted unprecedented interest across a broad range of areas. The Commission has now refined these ideas into what I believe is a highly relevant and important series of law reform projects.

“We want to help tackle injustices by making the law simpler, clearer and fit for the future.

“We will also be making sure the law supports cutting edge technical innovation such as automated vehicles and smart contracts.

“Although we are operating in uncertain times, I am confident that our independence and ability to build consensus will help ensure that Parliament can take forward law reform in these areas.”

13th Programme – the most innovative yet

Under the Law Commissions Act 1965 the Law Commission is required to submit Programmes of law reform to the Lord Chancellor. Since then, every three or four years the legal body has set out the areas it intends to work on for the next few years.

In July 2016 the 13th Programme consultation was launched to seek the public’s views on the issues most in need of reform. The consultation received the largest ever volume of responses with over 1,300 submissions covering 220 different topics.

Now the Commissioners – public appointees independent of Government – have chosen 14 topics for their new Programme. All have an acknowledgement from Government that there is a serious intention to reform the law in the relevant area.

The projects in the 13th Programme of Law Reform are:

  • A Modern Framework for Disposing of the Dead
  • Administrative Review
  • Automated Vehicles
  • Electronic Signatures
  • Employment Law Hearing Structures
  • Intermediated Securities
  • Modernising Trust Law for a Global Britain
  • Museum Collections
  • Registered Land and Chancel Repair Liability
  • Residential Leasehold
  • Simplifying the Immigration Rules
  • Smart Contracts
  • Surrogacy
  • Unfair Terms in Residential Leasehold

The Commission will also continue its ongoing work on 12th Programme of Law Reform and referral projects including the high-profile areas of misconduct in public office and search warrants.