* The Forfeiture Act 1982: A Case Study of the Private Member’s Bill as an Instrument of Law Reform
The Forfeiture Act 1982 originated in concern about a rule of law which seemed to have the effect that a woman who, under the grossest provocation, killed her husband would be disqualified from the social security benefits to which a widow would normally be entitled and would forfeit all right to succeed to his estate and to his interest in the family home. This draconian rule would be applied even if the woman's moral culpability were such that, in criminal proceedings, she had been held not to deserve any punishment at all. It has now become possible to piece together, from published and other sources, the story of how an Act which its sponsors never expected to see enacted, and which was undeniably technically defective, came to get onto the statute book. The story raises issues about law reform procedures, about the parliamentary process, and about the respective roles of the judiciary and the legislature, which in themselves justify an attempt to place the facts on record.
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