Law reform

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Masked sex workers lead a march to mark International Sex Workers’ Rights Day. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Debate around sex work in South Africa tilts towards decriminalisation

Sex workers in South Africa are all potential criminals due to the country's regressive laws. But their status may change soon, making South Africa the first African country to decriminalise sex work.
Cross-bench Senator Nick Xenophon wants the law to change to protect gift card holders when companies collapse. Gemma Najem/AAP

Xenophon is right to call for law reform on gift cards

It's not good to make law changes as a knee-jerk reaction, but in the case of insolvency and gift cards, it's time.
Today many donor-conceived children are adults and the impacts on their sense of identity have become clear, so Victoria is set to open the records of formerly anonymous donors. Reuters/Kacper Pempel

As Victoria opens sperm donor records, the key question is: do contact vetoes work?

In a world first, Victoria plans to retrospectively open the records of formerly anonymous sperm donors to all donor-conceived people. A system of contact vetoes aims to manage the privacy concerns.
Easton Woodhead has been found not guilty of murder on the basis of mental impairment, but he did not walk free from the court. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

How the insanity defence against a murder charge works

Despite the many people with mental illness who go to prison, successful defences of mental impairment are rare. But this is not a 'get out of jail free' card and should be more accessible.
A national regulator is proposed to oversee cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Australia. Dank Depot/Flickr

From farm to pharmacy: regulating medicinal cannabis in Australia

The Commonwealth plans to legalise local production of cannabis for medical and research purposes; as do Victoria and NSW. But what laws need to change for all of this to work?
The Law Reform Commission has likely given George Brandis much more than he was expecting in the review of rights-limiting laws that he asked for. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Brandis receives long list of rights-limiting laws – now can he justify them?

The federal government has to be on the back foot after a Law Reform Commission report identified that It has been the champion of many rights-limiting laws.
An issue to emerge from the royal commission hearings is the inadequacy of existing law for dealing with institutions whose negligence made child sexual abuse possible. AAP/Royal Commission

When institutions let child sexual abuse happen, that should be a crime

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published a research paper that suggests organisations be held criminally responsible when their negligence results in harm to children.
Joe Hockey’s successful defamation case against Fairfax Media raises questions about the extent to which politicians should be able to sue in relation to publications about their public conduct. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

Hockey v Fairfax should start the debate on defamation law reform

Hockey v Fairfax illustrates that recent legal and technological developments still pose challenges for defamation law, which has not been reformed to keep pace with these changes.

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