Law Commission review of electoral law
On this page you can find out about the Law Commissions' project to create a more modern, simple and accessible law for elections.
You can also read about the work we are doing to support this project.
We have now published our Hidden Costs of Electoral Law report. We have produced the report as part of our engagement with the Law Commission’s on-going review of electoral law. The intention is not to quantify the financial costs of the current system, but to identify the inefficiencies and opportunity costs that it generates, which could be minimised or avoided if it were revised and simplified.
We have sent our response to the Law Commissions’ consultation on electoral law reform which closed on 31 March.
We strongly support the Law Commissions’ review of electoral law, and the consultation paper is an impressive achievement in both summarising the current law and proposing much needed reforms. This is the first time that the law governing elections has been reviewed on this scale and we look forward to working with the Law Commissions as the review progresses.
The Law Commissions' review
The Law Commissions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are currently reviewing electoral law and will be making recommendations for change.
The aims of the project are to:
- consolidate the many existing sources of electoral law, and
- modernise and simplify the law, making it fit for elections in the 21st century
We encourage everyone participating in elections to engage in this opportunity to improve the UK's electoral law. The Law Commissions will be consulting on proposals for change late in 2014.
More information can be found on the Law Commissions' websites:
- The England and Wales Law Commission
- The Scottish Law Commission
- The Northern Ireland Law Commission
We strongly support the Law Commissions' review and are working to support the review. We believe it is an important opportunity to make electoral law more accessible and bring it up to date.
We have published reports on aspects of electoral law in the UK to inform thinking in connection with the Law Commissions' project.
- Electoral legislation, principles and practice: a comparative analysis (PDF)
- Challenging elections in the UK ('election petitions') (PDF)
- The position of election forms and notices in the hierarchy of electoral laws (PDF)
The first two reports look at how the overall structure of the UK's electoral law and its system for challenging election results ('election petitions') compares with international guidelines and practice in other countries.
The third considers where election forms and notices should sit within the legislative hierarchy. Currently in many places the law prescribes the exact forms and notices that must be used. This makes it difficult to make any alterations in instances where the wording is found to be inadequate or inaccessible. We propose that the exact format of these forms and notices should be moved further down the legal hierarchy from legislation to guidance so that any required amendments would be easier to implement.
We commissioned independent research looking at the structure of the laws governing UK elections.
This research, carried out by Professor Bob Watt of Buckingham University, compares the structure of our electoral law with laws in other countries and international guidelines, and highlights some lessons for the UK.
We have published a note setting out the background to the Law Commissions' review and our work in more detail: