The consultation process for the fourth programme began in October 2012. The commission posted a general notice on its website and invited submissions for consideration from various groups. The president of the commission sent out letters in October to a wide range of public bodies and non-governmental organisations inviting submissions on the fourth programme and it also wrote to the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality in this regard. Since 2000 it has been the practice for the commission to discuss the programme for law reform with the joint committee. In November the commission placed an advertisement concerning the fourth programme in two journals that have a wide circulation among the legal profession, namely, the Law Society Gazette and the Bar Review.
The commission's annual conference for 2012, which was held on 11 December, focused on the development of the fourth programme. The conference was addressed by speakers from Ireland and abroad and covered a wide social and economic setting for the development of the new programme, as well as areas of law which the commission might consider to have included. The commission plans to hold further public seminars early this year, including a seminar in NUI Galway on 27 February.
The commission will also liaise with the consultative committee, and a note on that has been circulated. The consultative committee has been in place since 1998 to assist in the commission's consultation with the Attorney General under section 4 of the 1975 Act in the preparation of law reform programmes. The consultative committee includes representatives of the Office of the Attorney General, the Bar Council, Departments, the Law Reform Commission and the Law Society. The commission will liaise with the committee in parallel with that consultation process.
The commission has sufficient staff to meet its demands. Staff are assigned to each of the commission's three functions, namely, law reform, access to legislation and administration. The commission has reformed and restructured all of its processes to ensure each function has adequate staffing resources and that they are deployed to deliver the best results for citizens and the State. The staff allocated to the law reform function comprise the director of research and six legal researchers. These staff are currently completing the final elements of the commission's third programme of law reform, which should be concluded by the middle of this year. They are also beginning the initial scoping of the fourth programme.
Four staff are allocated to the access to legislation function and, following the restructuring of that area, they comprise the project manager, assistant project manager and two legal researchers. The access to legislation team produces and maintains the legislation directory for Acts and statutory instruments, responsibility for which was assigned to the commission by a Government decision in 2007. The registration directory for Acts is complete from 1922 to date and is kept current. In 2011 the commission commenced production on a legislation directory of statutory instruments, which is complete from 2000 to date. The commission is currently examining how it might extend the legislation directory to statutory instruments preceding 2000. This team also produces and maintains the classified list of Acts in force twice each year. The sixth revision was published on the commission's website in December 2012. In addition to this classified list of Acts, a classified list of statutory instruments in force has also been prepared and is being reviewed by Departments. Once that is published the list of statutory instruments will be kept up to date by the access to legislation team. It also produces and maintains a list of revised Acts, over 130 of which are on the website.
I am not aware of any intention to change the structure of appointments for members of the Judiciary. These applications are vetted by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board under the chairmanship of the President of the High Court and presented to the Attorney General for consideration by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
Deputy Martin mentioned another issue which has momentarily slipped my mind. That process is under way and when the consultation has concluded the proposals will go to the Attorney General for Government approval of the programme.