5. Law reform processes and participation opportunities
A wide range of factors influence the ability of people to participate in law reform, with many arising from how law reform occurs. As described in the previous chapters, there is no single standard law reform process. Instead, these processes appear to vary in terms of timing and timeframe, the stage of the law reform cycle, and the institutions and stakeholders involved. The way any one instance of law reform unfolds affects public or stakeholder participation opportunities.
In this chapter we draw on interviews with informants involved in our case studies to explore the factors which influence how issues become the subject of, and progress through, a law reform process, with a particular focus on how these factors affect participation opportunities. We start by exploring two key and overriding themes which informants identified:
- executive dominance in law reform and
- the broader political context.
As a consequence of these overriding influences, there are features of law reform which significantly affect participation opportunities:
- timing and timeframes of law reform
- the unpredictable nature of law reform processes and
- the volume of law-making.
We explore each of these features in turn, and conclude this chapter by exploring the consultation practices routinely undertaken in law reform.