In 1975 Parliament, made acutely aware of the need for reform, enacted the Law Reform Commission Act, 1975 (No. 12 of 1975), which established a Law Reform Commission. The Commission was confronted with several financial and logistical problems and it became defunct in 1989. Justice Bankole Thompson, who was a member of that Commission, explains its progress as follows:
“With its Mandate clearly defined and a well constituted membership, it was hoped that the Commission would, in the first decade of its existence, have produced a well-crafted agenda of law reform priorities and begun to effect major reforms in the area of both civil and criminal laws. Regrettably, since its inception, the Commission’s achievements were very modest, covering mainly the field of family law, notably, adoption. Fiscal and related constraints, lack of adequate logistical support, lack of legislative support and a streak of judicial conservatism in the commission’s leadership accounted for this state of affairs.”
The Law Reform Commission of Sierra Leone was however reactivated with the enactment of the Law Reform Commission Decree No. 17 of 1994. Following the introduction of constitutional rule in 1996, Parliament adopted the Law Reform Commission Decree 1994 with amendments pursuant to the National Provisional Ruling Council Decrees (Repeal and Modification) Act 1996 (No. 3 of 1996). The mandate of the Commission is to keep under review all the Laws in force in Sierra Leone, both statutory and otherwise, for the purpose of their reform, development, consolidation and codification.
The Commission became fully operational in 2003 with the appointment of Dr. Peter Tucker as its Chairman and six Commissioners by the then president of Sierra Leone his Excellency Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. Since its establishment the Commission has had three Chairpersons and 15 Commissioners who have represented various institutions on the Commission.