What is the Uniform Law Commission?
For more than a century, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) has worked for the improvement of state laws by drafting uniform state laws on subjects where uniformity is desirable and practicable. It is a non-profit unincorporated association, comprised of state commissions on uniform laws from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now in its 119th year, the ULC is the oldest state governmental association and is the source of more than 300 uniform acts which seek to secure uniformity of state laws where diversity obstructs the interests of all the citizens of the United States.
How are Uniform Law Commissioners Appointed?
Each jurisdiction determines the method of appointment and the number of commissioners appointed. Most jurisdictions provide for the commission by statute. The commissioners, most of whom are appointed by their governors, serve for specific terms. In a few states, commissioners serve at the will of the appointing authority with no specific terms. All commissioners receive no salaries or fees for their work with the ULC. The only requirement is that each commissioner must be a member of the bar of a state.
What is a Uniform State Law?
A uniform state law is a statute that has been promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission. Although other organizations may adopt the term “uniform” when describing their own acts, generally, when the term “uniform” is used, it is highly likely that it is a law that has been drafted and approved by the ULC. Besides uniform acts, the ULC also promulgates “model” acts. A uniform act is one in which uniformity of the provisions of the act among the various jurisdictions is a principal and compelling objective. An act may be designated as “model” if the principal purposes of the act can be substantially achieved even though it is not adopted in its entirety by every state.
How is the ULC funded?
The ULC receives the major portion of its financial support from state appropriations. Every jurisdiction is also requested to fund its commissioners’ participation at the Annual Meeting, where so much of the work of the ULC is accomplished. The ULC also seeks revenue from publishers of uniform acts to supplement state funding. Grants from foundations and the federal government are occasionally sought for specific educational and drafting efforts. All money received from any source is accepted with the understanding that the work of the ULC is completely autonomous.
The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a joint venture between the ULC and the American Law Institute (ALI). The ALI holds the Falk Foundation funds that are allocated to work on the UCC. The original Falk Foundation grant came in the late 1940s for the original development of the UCC. Proceeds from copyright licensing of UCC materials provide revenue to replenish the Falk Foundation corpus. At any time work on the UCC commences, a percentage of ULC and ALI costs are paid from Falk Foundation income.
What are the benefits the Uniform Law Commission provides?
The work of the ULC simplifies the legal life of businesses and individuals by providing rules and procedures that are consistent from state to state – a consideration that has become more critical as new technology wears away geographical borders and matters of law implicate more than one state. Every day, when a person conducts business, enters a contract, makes a purchase or sale, or takes care of a family matter, rules of law originated by the ULC probably apply.
What kinds of legal issues does the ULC address?
Since the ULC first convened in 1892, it has produced more than 300 uniform acts focusing on such areas as commercial law, family or domestic relations law, estates, probate and trusts, real estate, implementation of full faith and credit, interstate enforcement of judgments, and alternate dispute resolution. The ULC generally is known for its contributions to private civil law, not regulatory law. Among the most widely adopted uniform acts are the Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
How are subjects for new acts selected?
Ideas for new acts are considered by the Committee on Scope and Program, which welcomes suggestions from the organized bar, state government entities, private interest groups, uniform law commissioners and private individuals. It may assign a suggested topic to a study committee which studies the topic and reports back to the Committee. Scope and Program sends its recommendations to the Executive Committee. With its approval, a drafting committee is selected and a reporter/drafter – an expert in the field – is hired. Advisors and participating observers are solicited to assist every drafting committee.
How is an act drafted?
The procedures of the ULC insure meticulous consideration of each Uniform or Model Act. When the ULC decides to draft an act, a drafting committee is appointed from the membership of the ULC. Each draft receives a minimum of two years consideration, sometimes much longer. Drafting committees meet throughout the year. The open drafting process draws on the expertise of state-appointed commissioners, legal experts, and advisors and observers representing the views of other legal organizations or interests that will be subject to the proposed laws.
How is an act finally approved by the ULC?
Draft acts are submitted for initial debate of the entire Uniform Law Commission at an annual meeting. Each act must be considered section by section, at no less than two annual meetings, by all commissioners sitting as a Committee of the Whole. Once the Committee of the Whole approves an act, the final step is a vote by states – one vote per state. A majority of the states present, and no less than 20 states, must approve an act before it can be officially adopted for consideration by the states.
What are the ULC's recent achievements?
The decades-long project to revise and update the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the signature product of the ULC working in conjunction with the American Law Institute, continues with the recent promulgation of new Amendments to UCC Article 9. With enactment in whole or in part in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, the UCC has achieved substantial uniformity of commercial law throughout the U.S.
The ULC continues its important work in family law, focusing legislative attention on such important statutes as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act and the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act.
The Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act is an important revision of an act that was universally adopted. The revision updates the law, expands the number of individuals allowed to consent to make anatomical gifts, and encourages the use of donor registries.
The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act is a revision of an earlier, very successful uniform act, the Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act, which was adopted in nearly every state. The new revised act has already been adopted in 50 states.
The Uniform Trust Code Project is a historic, multi-year effort to enact the Uniform Trust Code, the first national codification of the law of trusts. More than 20 states have already enacted the UTC.
Why is the Uniform Law Commission important?
The ULC is a unique institution created by state government to consider state law and to determine in which areas of the law uniformity is important. Since 1892, the ULC has kept the commercial law current with the times, worked continuously to better family law, resolved conflicts between the law of the states, improved health law, helped fend off federal preemption, and championed the cause of state government and state legislatures. No other organization may claim to have contributed more to American state law than the Uniform Law Commission has. It is the apex of American jurisprudence.