Speaking at a fringe meeting, hosted by the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association, at Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Liverpool, Nicholas Green QC said:

“We welcome the Coalition Government’s commitment to publish a Freedom (Great Repeal) Bill and its efforts to canvass public opinion on which laws should be considered for repeal. There is a wealth of expertise that the professions and the public can offer Government in identifying otiose, overly-burdensome or excessively authoritarian legislation. The thousands of new criminal offences created by the previous Government present a sensible starting point.

However, the Government must also take a considered approach to making new laws, so that it does not fall into the same trap as previous administrations. In the past there have been too many knee-jerk reactions. Parliament and the Select Committees must play a strong role in scrutinising legislation, and thorough impact assessments should be carried out before any further criminal offences are introduced.

The Freedom Bill presents an excellent opportunity for the Government not just to scrap unnecessary laws, but also to reflect on its approach to lawmaking and to consider a broader codification of criminal justice legislation. The recent Law Commission consultation, which has called for a reduction of the role of the criminal law in regulated fields, such as banking and food safety, is a perfect example of a rational approach.” He added:

“The Bar Council also supports greater post-implementation reviews of secondary legislation, for which the Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee called last year. Departments should include in their Impact Assessments a clear baseline position against which change introduced by legislation can later be measured to assess whether success criteria can be met. The Bar Council, particularly through the work of our Law Reform Committee, welcomes this opportunity to contribute to the debate.”

The Bar Council’s presence at Liberal Democrat Party Conference was part of a broader effort to update parliamentarians on the Bar’s interests and activities.