I'll preface with the (probably obvious) fact that I'm no law student or professional. I have read the guidelines for questions in law.se, and am confident that my question is specific and on-topic (at least according to my interpretation of the guidelines). Let me know if I'm wrong and how I can rectify it.


How could we achieve a full, or at least partial, review and rewrite of our complex and archaic laws?

This could broadly apply to many countries but I am thinking specifically of the UK.


This question has been building in my brain for a while, and it's emerged from a few different angles.

One (admittedly trivial) cause has been the articles and videos which float around, describing 'weird' and 'ridiculous' British laws still in effect, banning activities such as 'handling a salmon in suspicious circumstances' or 'carrying a plank along a pavement'. While I have read other articles which appear to debunk some of these laws, many appear to be legitimate and completely useless - well in need of removal or rewriting.

On the other end of the spectrum are the news items, or bursts of public indignation, that pop up from time to time regarding tax loopholes for the super rich and similar financial quirks that, on the face of it, seem to be needlessly complex and unfair. I'm aware tax loopholes specifically may be harder to close than one might assume, especially when the super rich have the incentive and resources to impede it, however this just seems like more reason to me why a complete overhaul may be needed.

As a general impression (again, I'm no expert), I also get the feeling that often court proceedings are much more drawn out than they need to be, due to subjective wording of laws, or other complexities that could be ironed out with a rewrite. This one is less definitive, more of the impression I get as an outsider looking in.

I've also been reading and thinking a lot about AI and other advanced technology developments recently. A lot of the discussion seems to be about how limited our current legal system is in dealing with matters around AI ethics and culpability/accountability as they begin to arise. It seems to me the solutions being worked on will rely on building upon many existing, complex laws which were written in a time when AI wasn't even conceivable. Won't this problem of out of date laws tangling with new technology get worse and worse? It seems to me another reason redoing some or all of our laws would be a great idea and save us a lot of bother down the line.

There are many more reasons this question has occurred to me time and time again, but I hope these suffice to give an idea.

Research and Thoughts

I've tried to look into this for myself, both here on law.se and online in general. Besides being buried in a mountain of results for the recently released song 'Rewrite the Stars', however, there really doesn't seem to be a lot out there addressing this.

Possibly because it seems such a ridiculous concept. I'm aware laws have to be passed in Parliament, and evidently an entire legal system couldn't just be passed at once. I'm interested if there could be a way to overcome this however, even if it involved dramatically reworking the way laws are passed.

Other obstacles that spring to mind:

-It would be a gargantuan undertaking in terms of time, money and manpower.

-There would be no real world testing, and a messy changeover between old and new

-People could exploit the overhaul, by trying to manipulate the new system to benefit them

While this may come across as a silly question, I truly feel the benefits that could be reaped from a completely modern, logical system of law would at least balance these difficulties? What would the process look like, and can these obstacles be overcome from a legal perspective?

1 Answer 1


The Law Commission already does this, including:

Because Law Commission bills do not create or change the law, they typically have an expedited passage through Parliament.

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