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What is Law Reform?

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  • Written By: M. Lupica
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Law reform is a collective term for the various movements to revamp, introduce, or negate laws in the interest of justice or economics. There are many different movements that encompass law reform. Generally, governments will have committees specifically in place to measure the effects of existing and potential laws and report to the governmentโ€™s respective law creating body with recommendations as to how they should or should not act in addressing the issue. Tort reform, drug reform, and financial regulation are three prominent examples of law reform that are commonly discussed.

Tort reform is a type of law reform that is typically discussed in the context of the medical industry. The aim of tort reform is to decrease costly liability insurance premiums doctors are required to pay in order to protect themselves from malpractice charges. Advocates for tort reform argue that by taking measures such as placing a statutory cap on the damages awarded to victims for pain and suffering will result in lowering the inherent risk for a substantial award for medical malpractice. Therefore, insurance premiums would be lowered, and with that medical costs to patients would be lowered across the board.

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The reform of penalties for laws prohibiting possession and sale of controlled substances is another kind of law reform. There are a wide variety of suggestions that drug reform advocates have made from simply lessening the penalties for end users convicted of possession of a controlled substance to entirely ending prohibition of such controlled substances. Proponents of ending prohibition argue that by eliminating criminal penalties for the possession of such substances, and allowing the government to regulate their use โ€” much like alcohol is regulated in most countries โ€” there would be no black market for such products. By removing the black market, the ability for criminals to make money by sale of controlled substances would be taken away and the violence surrounding the drug trade would be eliminated.

Another prominent law reform issue is that of regulation of industry โ€” primarily the financial markets. While some argue that the deregulation of industry results in more economic freedom and a greater ability to increase profits, the financial scandals involving global corporations in the early 2000s steered worldwide sentiment toward greater regulation. Advocates of more regulation of the financial industry argue that by implementing stronger oversight mechanisms, investors can feel more confident in their investments. As a result, investment will increase and thus, positive economic effects will precipitate.

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