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Review the "ancient laws"

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The Law Commission of England and Wales is set to review the “ancient laws” that govern the process of dealing with the remains of the deceased, aiming to “[bring] them into line with modern needs”.

The Law Commission said the rules and regulations that cover the disposal of a person’s body after they pass away are “outdated and complex” – with the majority of existing legislation dating back to the 19th century.

There are currently no guarantees that a person’s wishes for what happens to their body after they die are respected, which the Law Commission notes leads to disputes between family members over the arrangements for their loved one’s body.

The Commission stated the existing law of England and Wales also lacks flexibility, and is unable to accommodate new, alternative methods, beyond the traditional options of burial or cremation.

The Law Commission’s new project focusing on these issues will begin with a scoping phase. They are aiming to identify the issues that will be covered in the review in order to agree terms of reference with the Government. After agreeing the scope, the Commission will then set out its plans for the review.

While its scope is being agreed, the Law Commission does expect its project to consider a new, “future-proofed” set of laws governing the disposal of the dead. The review will also consider the laws governing burials and cremation, along with the creation of a framework that enables safe and dignified new processes for disposal.

Additionally, the Commission’s review is expected to explore changes to the legal status of a person’s wishes about what happens to their body following death – along with the rules governing the rights of others to make decisions over the methods of disposal used.

“Ensuring that our loved ones are treated with dignity and respect after they pass away is something that matters to everyone, whatever their background, culture, or belief,” said Professor Nick Hopkins, Family Law Commissioner at the Law Commission. Source: Todays Wills & Probate