Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 75 - United Kingdom statutes in force in Western Australia

Project No. 75

Commenced: 1978
Completed: 1994

Under a well-established common law rule, at the time of the settlement of Western Australia in 1829, all statutes in force in the United Kingdom, which were reasonably applicable to conditions in the new colony, automatically became part of the law of Western Australia. This included approximately 7000 statutes dating from 1235. Although many of these statutes had been replaced, of the statutes that remained in force many were regarded as obsolete or unsuitable to modern conditions, at least in their existing form. There was also concern that these statutes were inaccessible due to archaic expression and the limited availability at public libraries.

Over a period of 12 years, the Commission built up a substantial database of information on the subject which included action taken by other domestic legislatures and recommendations of law reform agencies both in Australia and overseas.

Terms of Reference

In 1978 the Commission was asked to review the Imperial Acts in force in Western Australia at the time of its founding and to recommend which of those still in force should be repealed and which should be re-enacted (whether in the same or different form) by the Parliament of Western Australia.


In 1995, Cabinet approved the drafting of legislation to implement this report. Parliamentary Counsel prepared a first draft, the Imperial Acts (Law Reform) Bill, and requested comments from the Commission. In August 1996, representatives of the Commission, the Solicitor General and Parliamentary Counsel met with the Attorney General to discuss the proposed legislation. No further action has been taken.

Cabinet separately approved the drafting of legislation to repeal the Sunday Observance Act 1677, a statute the Commission recommended should be preserved pending a review. There was a concern that the service of telephone restraining orders under the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) on Sundays would be prevented by the operation of s 6 the Sunday Observance Act 1677 which prevented the service of writs on a Sunday. The Sunday Observance Laws Amendment and Repeal Act 1997 (WA) repealed this Act.

It is the Commission's understanding that work is proceeding on a draft bill.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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