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Law Reform Commission. (2020) Accessibility of legislation in the digital age. Dublin: Law Reform Commission.

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Chapter 2 Accessibility of Legislation in Ireland traces the historical development of our collection of legislation, the Irish statute book, which currently comprises: (a) over 3,000 Acts that remain in force, including over 1,000 that predate the foundation of the State in 1922; and (b) over 15,000 statutory instruments, secondary legislation made under Acts (such as detailed Regulations), that remain in force. The Chapter also describes the various initiatives that have been devised and adopted in Ireland in an effort to improve the accessibility of the statute book. The Chapter proceeds to outline the variety of legislative sources that now comprise the statute book, as well as other relevant sources of law, including EU and international law. In this context, the current accessibility issues posed by the various legal sources are outlined. The Chapter also includes a number of case studies or examples of areas of the law that are particularly in need of reform. These examples include:

  1. road traffic legislation;
  2. employment legislation;
  3. gambling control legislation; and
  4. sale of alcohol legislation. 

The Commission has recommended a number of areas of the law that could be considered by the ACLG for inclusion in a first programme of consolidation. These areas are: 1. Road traffic legislation; 2. Employment legislation; 3. Gambling control legislation; 4. Sale of alcohol legislation; 5. Monuments and archaeological heritage legislation; 6. Consumer protection legislation; and 7. Landlord and tenant legislation.  

P.62 Example 1: Finding the law on road traffic offences

…The difficulty in this area of the law is particularly exemplified by the current state of offences related to drink-driving. These offences are among those on the statute book that are subject to the greatest number of legal challenges and appeals. One of the reasons for this is the fact that a conviction for a drink driving offence carries automatic disqualification from driving for a minimum period of 3 months).125 These offences have, at various times, been governed by sections 49 and 50 of the 1961 Act, Part 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1968, Part 3 of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 1978, and Part 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1994. Each of these provisions was substantially amended on a regular basis and both the 1978 and 1994 Acts entirely substituted new sections 49 and 50 into the 1961 Act, dealing with the offence of driving under the influence of an intoxicant. The 1978 Act also substantially repealed the 1968 Act and set out new provisions for taking specimens. This was itself repealed and replaced by the 1994 Act......  

P.64 Example 2: legislation on licensing and sale of alcohol

Another area that would benefit considerably from consolidation is the legislation on licensing and sale of alcohol. The law in this area is governed by the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018, which comprises 39 individual Acts,131 and by the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008, which comprises 14 individual Acts. Additionally, various Finance and Customs and Excise Acts,132 as well as a myriad of statutory instruments apply to the area….. 

P.77 Example 7: Finding the law relating to drugs offences

The law governing drugs offences is contained in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, which has been subject to considerable amendment. For example, the amendment history on the eISB for the 1977 Act at the time of writing (August 2020) lists 111 textual amendments and 76 non-textual effects. In addition, readers also need to be familiar with separate standalone provisions in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1984, the Criminal Justice Act 1994, the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996, the Licensing (Combating Drug Abuse) Act 1997, the Criminal Justice (Illicit Traffic by Sea) Act 2003, and the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Act 2010. The majority of these Acts have, in turn, been subsequently amended on a number of occasions, and those seeking to access the law on this topic are required to be familiar with the up-to-date law contained in these Acts. The Commission has published a Revised Act version of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. 

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
Alcohol, All substances, Substances (not alcohol/tobacco), Behavioural addiction
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
September 2020
289 p.
Law Reform Commission
Corporate Creators
Law Reform Commission
Place of Publication
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