Role and functions of the ALRC

The ALRC is an independent statutory authority that operates under the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth) (ALRC Act), the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth) (PGPA Act) and the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth).

The ALRC is responsible to Parliament through the Attorney-General, the Minister responsible for the ALRC.

The primary function of the ALRC, as set out in s 21 of the ALRC Act, is to report to the Attorney-General on the results of any review or consideration it carries out and to include in the report its recommendations.

The ALRC is required to review Commonwealth laws relevant to those matters referred by the Attorney-General for the purposes of systematically developing and reforming the law particularly by:

  • bringing the law into line with current conditions and ensuring that it meets current needs;

  • removing defects in the law;

  • simplifying the law;

  • adopting new or more effective methods for administering the law and dispensing justice; and

  • providing improved access to justice.

The ALRC is to consider proposals for making or consolidating Commonwealth laws, and must consider proposals for:

  • the repeal of obsolete or unnecessary laws;

  • uniformity between state and territory laws; and

  • complementary Commonwealth, state and territory laws

with reference to those matters referred to it.

In performing its functions the ALRC is required by s 24 of the ALRC Act to ensure that the laws, proposals and recommendations it reviews, considers or makes:

  • do not trespass unduly on personal rights and liberties or make the rights and liberties of citizens unduly dependent on administrative, rather than judicial, decisions; and

  • are, as far as practicable, consistent with Australia’s international obligations that are relevant to the matter.

The Commission, when formulating recommendations, must have regard to the effect that the recommendations may have on:

  • the costs of getting access to, and dispensing, justice; and

  • persons and businesses who would be affected by the recommendations (including the economic effect, for example).