Established in 1975, the Australian Law Reform Commission is a permanent, independent federal statutory corporation, operating under the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth).
The ALRC conducts inquiries - known as references - into areas of law reform at the request of the Attorney-General of Australia.
While accountable to the federal Parliament for its budget and activities, the ALRC is not under the control of government, giving it the intellectual independence and ability to make research findings and recommendations without fear or favour.
ALRC recommendations provide advice to government but do not automatically become law. However, the ALRC has a strong record of having its advice taken up. Nearly 80 per cent of the ALRC's reports have been either substantially or partially implemented - making it one of the most effective and influential agents for legal reform in Australia.
The ALRC's focus is on federal laws and legal processes. When conducting an inquiry, the ALRC aims to:
simplify and modernise the law;
improve access to justice;
remove obsolete or unnecessary laws, and eliminate defects in the law;
suggest new or more effective methods for administering the law and dispensing justice;
ensure harmonisation of Commonwealth, state and territory laws where possible;
monitor overseas legal systems to ensure Australia compares favourably with international best practice.
The ALRC must always ensure the laws it is reviewing are consistent with Australia's international obligations and uphold civil liberties and human rights.
The ALRC does not offer legal advice or handle complaints. It cannot intervene in individual cases and does not act as a 'watch-dog' for the legal system or the legal profession.