The Law Commission has told the parliamentary Justice select committee that it will face real challenges in meeting its deliverables with its current funding.
In the committee's 2017/18 Annual review of the Law Commission, it is revealed that the commission has made changes to reduce spending, including moving to less expensive premises and not replacing several permanent staff members.
"The commission has not had an increase in funding in the past nine years, having unsuccessfully applied for an increase in the last two years," the review report says.
The commission has 26.6 FTE employees and its total income in the year to 30 June 2018 of $4.23 million was a deficit of $148,000 on total expenditure.
Its current work includes three active reviews and three inactive projects. The three active reviews are of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995, and the second statutorily-required review of the Evidence Act 2006. All three reviews are expected to be completed in 2019.
The Justice select committee says the three inactive projects include a review of the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908, which has been on hold for some time.
"The others are reviews of the law relating to class actions and litigation funding, and of trust law relating to statutory incorporations and trustees. These two were put on hold as the commission reallocated staff to complete the priority request from the Minister about abortion law reform, which we discuss later in this report."
The report says the commission expects that one of these projects will be reactivated once the Evidence Act review is completed. If its Budget bid for 2019/20 is successful, a second project could commence.
Estimate of 70% take-up
The committee also looked at whether the commission keeps a record of how many of its past recommendations have been implemented, in part or in full.
"The commission said it does not have a full record of all reports produced since its establishment, but it does monitor action on its recommendations. It estimates that about 70% are taken up, which it considers a reasonable success rate."