Bar group backs Brooke on fast track civil reform

John Malpas reports

The LAW Commission has welcomed a Bar Council commitment to lobby the Government to speed up the progress of non-contentious criminal law reform through Parliament.

The Bar Parliamentary Group is pressing the Government to allow Law Commission reports on criminal law a 'fast track' passage through Parliament, much to the delight of the commission's chair Mr Justice Brooke.

Speaking at the group's AGM last month, he said the introduction of the so-called Jellicoe procedure in Parliament had cleared the way for a rapid adoption of the commission's bills in the civil law area. But he regretted continued delays in the progress of criminal law reform prompted by the restriction of the Jellicoe procedures to civil law.

Such a swift reaction to his speech from the group, which is seeking meetings with Michael Howard and Lord Mackay, is good news for Mr Justice Brooke who says he has received support from the Home Affairs Select Committee.

"What is so encouraging about this is that MPs of all political parties are anxious to see progress," he says.

The Bar Parliamentary Group's chair, Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, says some areas of criminal law reform require "careful consideration" by Parliament but other non-contentious areas could be suitable for the new time-saving Jellicoe procedure.

"A good example of this is the Law Commission's draft criminal law bill which replaces parts of the rather obscure law relating to offences against the person.

"By clarifying the law and setting out clear principles of criminal responsibility the work of those involved in the criminal justice system would be made much more efficient," he says.