The Role of the LDAC

The LDAC's mandate is to promote quality legislation (external link) . It does this in three ways:

  1. By providing advice to departments early in the development of policy and legislation to resolve problems in the design of legislation and to identify potential public and constitutional law issues.
  2. By setting standards through the publication of Guidelines (endorsed by Cabinet (external link) ) and the supporting Manual for lawyers and policy advisors engaged in designing, developing and drafting legislation.
  3. By scrutinising Government Bills that come before Parliament.

The LDAC also runs seminars on legislative design. The LDAC is not concerned with the policy objectives of legislation; its focus is on good legislative practice and public law issues.

The LDAC meets every six weeks and its members are experienced government officials with backgrounds in law, policy and economics. The Parliamentary Counsel Office provides secretarial assistance.

The three aspects of the LDAC’s role

Advising departments

The LDAC provides advice to departments early in the development of policy and legislation (prior to a Bill's introduction) so that advice can be incorporated into legislation design and a department's instructions to the Parliamentary Counsel Office. The LDAC assesses and advises on new Bills against the LAC Guidelines (2014 edition) in order to resolve problems in the design of legislation and to identify potential public and constitutional law issues. However, nothing restricts the ability of the LDAC to comment on any matter relating to a Bill that it considers appropriate in the interests of encouraging high-quality legislation.

Bills are identified for LDAC consultation through the annual legislation programme. Officials must indicate whether they intend to refer a Bill to the LDAC in legislation bids seeking priority for a bill on the legislation programme (external link) .  Officials must seek Ministerial approval to consult with LDAC if it was not addressed through legislation bids. 

For further information for officials about consulting with LDAC before a Bill is introduced, see Engaging with LDAC.

Standard setting

The LDAC sets standards for good legislation by taking over responsibility for the LAC Guidelines on Process and Content of Legislation (2014 edition). The Guidelines provide advice and direction about the process of developing legislation and the need for new laws to maintain consistency with basic legal principles. They also provide specific guidance about particular elements of the content of legislation such as the creation of criminal offences, other remedies and the delegation of legislative power.

The LAC Guidelines (2014 edition) are a valuable resource for departmental legal teams and those working in government. Ongoing updates keep pace with changes in legal thinking and practice. The Guidelines have been endorsed by Cabinet (external link) , and Ministers and their officials are required to state in Cabinet papers (external link) seeking approval of Bills for introduction whether any aspects of a Bill depart from the default principles in the Guidelines and to justify any departure.

The LDAC is available for advice and assistance in relation to the application of the Guidelines. It can answer questions about how to translate policy into quality legislation.

Monitoring process

On occasion, Government bills may be reviewed after their introduction against the LAC Guidelines (2014 edition). If the review raises issues of inconsistency with the  Guidelines, the LDAC through its External Subcommittee of advisors may make a submission to the relevant Select Committee. The External Subcommittee only reviews Bills that have not engaged with LDAC before introduction.  The LDAC does not scrutinise bills for their policy content but to ensure that they represent good legislative practice.

Where the LDAC sits in the legislative process

 The LDAC's role in how law is made. Before introduction, the LDAC is responsible for advising departments on design and public law issues. It is also responsible for setting standards by maintaining the LAC Guidelines (2014 edition), which departments refer to when drafting legislation and prior to introducing a bill. After a Bill has been approved by Cabinet and introduced, the LDAC is responsible for monitoring and reviewing bills and making submissions to select committees where a review raises issues of inconsistency with the Guidelines.

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