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.

Commons Briefing Papers

18.05.2016A British Bill of Rights?
The Conservative Party went into the 2015 General Election with a manifesto commitment to 'scrap the Human Rights Act and curtail the role of the European Court of Human Rights.' This note provides a brief introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998; the European Convention on Human Rights and the work of the European Court of Human Rights.
16.05.2016The Protection from Harassment Act 1997
This Commons Library Briefing Paper gives a brief overview of the criminal and civil remedies available in the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
14.04.2016Commons Library analysis: Legal aid for victims of domestic abuse
The LASPO Act 2012 reduced the scope of civil legal aid. Controversy still surrounds its provision for private family law cases where, to be eligible, people seeking legal aid must provide evidence of domestic abuse.
23.03.2016Regulation of will writers
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which considers arguments for and against statutory regulation of will writing. In May 2013, the then Government decided not extend regulation to this area.
21.03.2016Missing persons, guardianship and the presumption of death
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which provides information about looking for a missing person and dealing with their property and affairs
12.02.2016EU referendum: impact of an EU exit in key UK policy areas
This paper looks at the current situation in a range of policy areas and considers how it might change if the UK left the EU: would UK citizens benefit? This would depend on how the Government filled any policy gaps left by withdrawal.
14.01.2016Litigants in person: the rise of the self-represented litigant in civil and family cases in England and Wales
The available evidence indicates that the proportion of litigants appearing before the civil and family courts in England and Wales without legal representation (litigants in person, also sometimes called self-represented litigants) has increased since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 took many civil and private law children and family cases out of scope for legal aid from 1 April 2013. What does this mean, both for the litigants and for the courts?
14.01.2016Civil legal aid changes since 2013: the impact on people seeking help with legal problems
Changes to civil legal aid have reduced spending, but whether they have increased costs elsewhere or added to the difficulties people may face in obtaining help with legal problems remains controversial.
17.12.2015Paying the statutory charge: legal aid in England and Wales
Individuals who have received legal aid may, at the end of the case, have to repay some or all of their legal aid costs. The Legal Aid Agency has been trying to recoup money owed via the statutory charge.
11.12.2015Controversy in 2010-11 surrounding the Government's plans for legal aid reform
Many changes have been made to the way in which the legal aid scheme is organised and managed but the current scheme is, in essence, the same as it was when founded in 1948. A green paper on legal aid reform was published on 15 November 2010. Perhaps its most controversial aspect was the proposal to take some categories of case out of scope for funding.

Lords Library Notes

20.01.2016Work of the Ad Hoc Committees in 2013-14
This House of Lords Library briefing provides an overview of the work of the five ad hoc Lords Select Committees which reported in the 2013-14 session.
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.

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 ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses