Electoral Law

Commissioner

Lord Pentland, Chairman

Team member

Gillian Swanson, Project Manager

A joint interim report was published on 4 February 2016.  A summary and news release are also available.  The purpose of the interim report is to enable governments to decide whether to ask us to move on to the production of a final report and draft legislation.  

The interim report forms part of a joint project with the Law Commission for England and Wales and the Northern Ireland Law Commission to review UK legislation in relation to electoral law. The project follows a reference to the Commission from the UK Cabinet Office as regards reserved areas of Scots law, and from Scottish Ministers as regards devolved areas.

The publication of the interim report follows an extensive consultation on the provisional proposals contained in our joint Consultation Paper on Electoral Law which we published in December 2014. In our view, our consultation paper and the responses to it have revealed considerable scope for technical improvement in the legislation governing elections and a broad consensus on the form that the improvement should take.   Accordingly, the interim report outlines the law and the response to our proposals, before making recommendations for law reform in the light of that response.

Electoral law in the UK has grown to be complex, voluminous and fragmented. Recent years have seen a steady increase in the numbers and types of election. One issue arising from this is that each type of election brings its own set of rules and systems, and combining different types of election into one electoral event introduces yet more layers of electoral law. The overall aim of the project is therefore to produce a new general structure or framework which could be used for all elections and referendums in the jurisdictions in the UK, thus providing a more principled way in which to organise electoral law.

The outcome of the current review stage will be reported here as soon as it is available.

Media coverage of the project can be read here:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/martyn-mclaughlin-time-to-update-victorian-electoral-laws-1-4025864

http://www.localgov.co.uk/Victorian-era-electoral-laws-should-be-made-fit-for-the-21st-century-urge-law-commissions/40254

http://www.journalonline.co.uk/News/1021305.aspx#.VrNPYUZYLcs

http://www.lgcplus.com/

http://www.noodls.com/viewNoodl/31980367/electoral-commission/electoral-commission--electoral-commission-calls-on-governm

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/commission-calls-for-single-electoral-law/5053419.article

http://www.solicitorsjournal.com/news/public/administrative-and-constitutional/25357/modern-legal-framework-needed-uk-elections

http://www.solicitorsjournal.com/news/public/local-government/consultation-be-held-%E2%80%98fragmented%E2%80%99-electoral-law

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21087%3Alaw-commissions-urge-reform-to-fragmented-legal-framework-for-elections&catid=59&Itemid=27

Project papers published to date

2012 "Electoral Law in the United Kingdom: A Scoping Report". Published by the Law Commission for England and Wales and available at http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/docs/electoral_law_scoping_report.pdf, News Release.

2014 Joint Consultation Paper on Electoral Law, Summary, Consultee letter and News Release.

2016 Joint Interim Report, Summary, News Release and Interim Impact Assessment.