Law Reform Commission of New South Wales

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Law Reform Commission of New South Wales
Coat of Arms of New South Wales.svg
Agency overview
Formed 1966
Jurisdiction New South Wales
Headquarters Swire House, 10 Spring Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • Hon. James Roland Wood AO QC, Chairman of the Commission
  • Paul McKnight, Executive Director

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission is a commission to investigate, review and advise on the reform of the law in New South Wales, a state of Australia. The present commission came into existence on 25 September 1967 although it had been administratively established previously in 1966.


There has been a history of law reform in common law countries such as Australia. Prior to the establishment of the commission, various parliamentary inquiries, ad hoc commissions (e.g., Commissioner's Bigg report into the New South Wales legal system in 1820), or panels had advised on law reform.

The commission was the first permanent body established in Australia to continually conduct and investigate law reform. Its establishment is important as it was an independent body that could devote its deliberations full-time to examining law reform in the state [1]

The first real law reform commission in the state was one set up in 1870 by the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and set up by letters patent of 14 July 1870. The commission consisted of the five lawyers and the Chief Justice of New South Wales, Sir Alfred Stephen. This Commission prepared a draft bill to simplify equity procedure and indicated the need for consolidation and reform of lunacy, insolvency and jury laws. Its only success came long after the body lapsed with the eventual enactment of part of its proposed Criminal Law Consolidation and Amendment Bill in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1883.[2]


The commission is established under the Law Reform Commission Act 1967 (NSW).[3] The Governor of New South Wales may appoint a chairperson of the commission. The current chairperson is Alan Cameron AO.

The governor may also appoint deputy chairpersons of the commission. The governor must also appoint two other commissioners to the commission. Both the chairperson and the commissioners must be: (a) is or was the holder of a judicial office; (b) has experience as an Australian legal practitioner in legal practice; (c) has experience as a teacher of law; or, (d) has academic attainment in law. Commissioners may be appointed as full-time or part-time commissioners.


The duties and powers of the Commission are outlined in Law Reform Commission Act 1967 (NSW), which indicate the wide-ranging purposes of inquiry and legislative reform such as review, consolidation or repeal.[4] Under the Law Reform Commission Act, the commission may make interim and final reports on any of its work. The Attorney General of New South Wales may also direct the commission to make a report. The commission is also required to make an annual report on its work during the year. For the commission, the year starts in July and ends in the following June. The report is furnished to the Attorney-General who must then table the report in the New South Wales Parliament.[5]

Work of the commission[edit]

Some of the recent reports of the commission include reports on Parole (2015), Encouraging appropriate early guilty pleas (2014), Criminal appeals (2014), Sentencing (2013), and People with cognitive and mental health impairments and the criminal justice system (2013).


From To Name Postnominals Notes
1966 1969 Hon. James Manning QC [6]
1969 1972 Hon. Raymond Reynolds QC [7]
1972 1976 Hon. Leycester Meares QC
1976 1981 Hon. Hal Wootten QC
1981 1984 Ronald Sackville
1985 1987 Keith Mason QC
1987 1989 Helen Gamble [8]
1989 1990 Keith Mason QC
1990 1993 Hon. Robert Marsden Hope AC, CMG, QC
1993 1996 Hon. Gordon Samuels AC, QC
1996 2005 Hon. Michael Adams QC [9]
2006 2014 Hon. James Roland Wood AO, QC
2015 date Alan Cameron AO


  1. ^ homepage of commission
  2. ^ Precursors of the NSW Law Reform Commission (1870-1965) - Law Reform Commission : Lawlink NSW
  3. ^ Law Reform Commission Act 1967 (NSW) s 3
  4. ^ Law Reform Commission Act 1967 (NSW) s 10
  5. ^ Law Reform Commission Act 1967 (NSW) s 13
  6. ^ McLaughlin, John Kennedy. "Manning, Sir James Kenneth (1907–1976)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "REYNOLDS, Raymond George". Previous chairpersons. Law Reform Commission of New South Wales. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "GAMBLE, Helen Elizabeth Craig". Previous chairpersons. Law Reform Commission of New South Wales. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  9. ^ "ADAMS, Michael Frederick". Previous chairpersons. Law Reform Commission of New South Wales. Retrieved 25 May 2014. 

External links[edit]