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Independence, Engagement, Impact
The Law Commission of Ontario makes laws, policies and programs more accessible for all Ontarians. Our reports make recommendations:
- to make the legal system more relevant, accessible or effective;
- to simplify or clarify the law; and
- about using technology to improve access to justice.
Our mandate and priorities for 2017-2020 are in our strategic plan.
Who We Are
The Law Commission of Ontario is Ontario’s leading law reform agency. Since its inception in 2008, the LCO has completed 16 major projects and consulted with thousands of Ontarians on important law reform issues. We’ve completed projects on a broad range of legal issues, including defamation law, class actions, the law of capacity, joint and several liability, the Provincial Offences Act, division of pensions, RDSPs, family law, and laws governing older adults and disabled Ontarians.
The LCO is a unique, innovative and productive partnership that was originally created by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Law Deans of Ontario.
We are funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario, Osgoode Hall Law School, and York University. The LCO also receives significant in kind support from Osgoode Hall Law School and York University.
The LCO provides independent, balanced, and authoritative advice on some of Ontario’s most complex and far-reaching legal policy issues. We evaluate laws impartially, transparently and broadly.
The LCO is independent of stakeholder interests and is committed to a “public interest” perspective for every project.
Our reports include principled, practical, “problem-solving” recommendations that are informed by broad consultations and tested through a transparent and comprehensive process that engages a broad range of individuals, experts, and institutions.
The LCO is located at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada.
The LCO is Ontario’s second-generation law reform agency. Our predecessor, the Ontario Law Reform Commission (OLRC), was established in 1964. It was the first law reform agency in Canada and reported to the Attorney General of Ontario. Between 1964 and 1996, the OLRC issued almost 100 reports and study papers on topics as diverse as charities, jury trials, land law, AIDS testing, child welfare, personal property security, privacy, the Landlord and Tenant Act, and enforcement of judgements.
In the mid-2000s, justice leaders in Ontario recognized the need to for a renewed law reform agency in Ontario. Shortly thereafter, the LCO was established by an agreement between Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Law Deans of Ontario.
Today, there are law commissions in six Canadian provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan) with the development of a seventh commission underway (Quebec). There are over 60 independent law commissions operating world-wide.
What We Do
The LCO provides independent, evidence-based, and forward-looking advice on some of Ontario’s most complex and controversial legal policy issues. The LCO’s analysis of provincial laws, policies, programs, and practice is rigorous, multidisciplinary, and based on extensive consultations with the persons and institutions most affected by them. As a result, our reports are an authoritative, long-term resource for policy-makers, stakeholders, academics, and the general public.
The LCO’s reports have led to legislative, regulatory and policy amendments. They are cited in judicial decisions, policy reports, academic articles, and media stories for many years. They also make significant contributions to public legal education and public debates on important and topical law reform issues.
Many institutions, organizations and individuals rely on the LCO’s work, including:
- Government decision-makers at the provincial, national, and municipal levels;
- Legal system professionals, including the judiciary, legal organizations, and lawyers;
- Regulators such as the Law Society of Ontario, regulated health professions, and others;
- Private and public institutions involved with legal issues or the justice system, such as hospitals and financial institutions;
- Community groups, agencies, community legal clinics, and individuals working in project-related areas;
- Academics and experts working in LCO project-related areas,
- Law schools; and,
- The general public.
By definition, LCO reports break new ground in law reform. Our Defamation in the Internet Age project, for example, is the first project of its kind in Canada. Other projects, such as our Class Actions and Legal Capacity projects, are the first comprehensive reviews of important Ontario statutes in more than 20 years.
In the last five years alone, the LCO has initiated or completed nine major projects and has circulated more than 30 final reports, interim reports, discussion papers or commissioned papers. Major projects during this period include:
- AI, ADM and the Justice System
- Class Actions
- Defamation Law in the Internet Age
- Last Stages of Life
- Indigenous Engagement for the Last Stages of Life
- Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship
- Simplified Procedures for Small Estates
- Capacity and Legal Representation for the Federal RDSP
The LCO also supports law reform, policy making and critical debate through conferences, forums, events, and roundtables. Recent examples include: