Civil law

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on civil law. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Standard Notes

30.10.2014Trespass to land
This note provides some background information about issues relating to trespass to land. This is not generally a criminal offence; however, there are particular statutes which make particular forms of trespass offences. In 2012, the Government introduced a new offence of squatting in residential buildings, but also said it had no plans to criminalise any other forms of trespass.
16.10.2014Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill: Progress of the Bill
This is a note on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (the Bill). It complements Library Research Paper 14/38 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.
01.08.2014The Law Officers
Information about the role of the Law Officers in England and Wales (the Attorney General and Solicitor General).
03.06.2014Regulation of will writers
Although certain legal activities, known as 'reserved legal activities', may be carried out only by regulated legal professionals, such as solicitors and barristers, other legal advice, including will writing, may be delivered by people who are not subject to regulation. Arguments have been advanced both for and against regulating will writing, based, for example, on the need for consumer protection and the cost, burden and effectiveness of regulation. The previous Government decided against including will writing as a reserved legal activity in the Legal Services Act 2007 because it considered that evidence had not shown statutory regulation in this area to be necessary, and favoured voluntary regulation instead.
07.04.2014TV licence fee non-payment: decriminalising the offence
It is against the law to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV without a valid licence. At present, using a television receiver without a valid licence is a criminal offence. This can lead to prosecution, a court appearance and a fine of up to 1,000 (not including legal costs).

Research Papers

08.07.2014Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill
The Coalition Agreement included a commitment to encourage volunteering and involvement in social action. The Government intends that the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill will help to fulfil this commitment by reassuring volunteers (and others) that the courts will consider the context of their actions in the event that they are sued for negligence or breach of statutory duty.
26.02.2014Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL]
The Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL] is based substantially on a draft bill prepared by the Law Commission. It is following the special procedure which applies to Law Commission bills. The Bill is a technical Bill which would amend aspects of the law of intestacy and family provision claims; and the statutory powers of trustees in all trusts.
20.02.2014Criminal Justice and Courts Bill
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill would make a number of changes to the criminal justice system including sentencing; cautions; prisoners' release and recall; and the detention of young offenders. It would also reform court proceedings and costs; establish a new system of strict liability in contempt proceedings; create new offences for juror misconduct; make changes to the conduct and funding of judicial review claims; and amend the law on extreme pornography.
19.03.2013Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill Committee Stage Report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. It complements Research Paper 13/08 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.
26.02.2013Justice and Security Bill [HL] Committee Stage Report
This paper has been produced following the Committee Stage of the Justice and Security Bill in the House of Commons, which took place between 29 January and 7 February 2013. The Bill, which has proved contentious, was originally introduced in the House of Lords on 28 May 2012. It is aimed at modernising and strengthening the oversight of the intelligence and security services and would allow the civil courts to use 'closed material procedures' to hear sensitive evidence in cases that raised national security concerns. It would also preclude the courts from ordering the disclosure of sensitive information in certain circumstances. The Bill was revised significantly in the Lords and was introduced in the House of Commons on 28 November 2012. Second Reading took place on 18 December 2012. A number of noteworthy and controversial amendments were made to the Bill in Committee.

Select Committee Reports

23.03.2010Pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Civil Law Reform Bill.
Justice Select Committee report [Commons]
21.07.2009Green paper on the Brussels I Regulation.
European Union Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]
19.05.2009European contract law: the draft common frame of reference.
European Union Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]

Early Day Motions

That this House expresses concern that the Government's proposals for reform to the costs regime for civil litigation will have particularly devastating consequences for human rights ...
21.03.2011LIBEL REFORM
That this House welcomes the publication of the draft Defamation Bill as an essential step towards the necessary and urgent reform of the UK's outdated and unbalanced libel laws; notes ...
That this House recognises that people who are victimised in the workplace or treated unfairly in the recruitment process need to be able to challenge employers and seek redress; understands ...
That this House notes that human rights activists, scientists, writers and journalists are prevented from publishing, and the public prevented from reading, matters of strong public ...
20.07.2009SUPREME COURT OF ENGLAND AND WALES (S.I., 2009, No. 1498)
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2009 (S.I., 2009, No. 1498), dated 10 June 2009, a copy of which was laid ...

Lords Library Notes

30.10.2014Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (HL Bill 47 of 2014-15)
The Social Responsibility, Action and Heroism Bill (the SARAH Bill) sets out various factors that the court 'must have regard to' in determining the steps a defendant was required to take to meet a standard of care in claims for negligence or breach of statutory duty.
30.05.2013Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill (HL Bill 29 of 2013-14)
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill would extend civil marriage to include same-sex couples and allow those religious organisations who wished to do so to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. This Library Note provides background reading in advance of the Bill's second reading in the House of Lords on 3 June 2013.
04.10.2012Defamation Bill (HL Bill 41 of 2012-13)
This Library Note is published in advance of the second reading in the House of Lords of the Defamation Bill on 9 October 2012.


  • Research Papers (RP) - briefings produced by the House of Commons Library on Bills, topical issues and regular statistics
  • Standard Notes (SN) - shorter, topical briefings from the Commons Library
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POST Notes - short briefing notes produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - papers compiled by the House of Lords Library on Bills and for debates in the Lords
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses