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Thematic Issue: Law and Economics/General

Where Is the Evidence in Evidence-Based Law Reform?


Jason M Chin, Malgorzata Lagisz and Shinichi Nakagawa

Law reform bodies frequently express a commitment to evidence-based law and policy recommendations. They also endorse the importance of the transparency and democratisation of their processes. They do not, however, connect these two goals of evidence-based policy and transparency. This stands in contrast to the ongoing revolution in several fields of research towards open science and synthesis, which envisions transparency and openness as a means to improve the reliability of research. We suggest herein that several recent concerns surrounding evidence-based law reform, such as allegations of bias among officials, can be addressed through open science and synthesis. We include a novel study of 22 research syntheses commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, finding uneven adoption of even the most basic transparency measures. We end with five proposals that advance transparent evidence-based law reform, including greater disciplinary diversity among law reform staff.

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(2022) 45(3) UNSWLJ 914: