What is the Uniform Law Commission?
For more than a century, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) has served the states and their citizens by drafting state laws on subjects on which uniformity across the states is desirable and practicable. It is a nonprofit unincorporated association comprised of state commissioners from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Now in its 122nd year, the ULC is the nation’s oldest state governmental association. A nonpartisan, volunteer organization, the ULC is the source of more than 300 acts that secure uniformity of state law when differing laws would undermine the interests of citizens throughout the United States.
How are Uniform Law Commissioners Appointed?
Every ULC commissioner must be an attorney. Each jurisdiction determines the method of appointment and its number of commissioners. In most states, the governor appoints the state’s commissioners to serve a specified term. In a few states, ULC commissioners serve at the will of the appointing authority and have no specific term.
ULC commissioners are volunteers who do not receive salaries or other compensation for their public service.
What is a Uniform State Law?
The Uniform Law Commission drafts uniform laws for the states to consider and enact. A uniform act is one that seeks to establish the same law on a subject among the various jurisdictions. When the term “uniform” is used in the nation’s laws, it is highly likely that the ULC drafted the act.
The ULC also promulgates “model” acts. An act may be designated as “model” if the act’s principal purposes can be substantially achieved even if the act 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 asked to fund its commissioners’ participation at the ULC’s Annual Meeting, where acts are debated, amended, and voted upon for approval.
To supplement state funding, the ULC receives revenue from publishers who use uniform acts and other ULC-copyright materials. Grants from foundations and the federal government occasionally support specific educational and drafting efforts. Regardless of the source of funding, ULC work remains nonpartisan, open, and inclusive.
Perhaps the best-known project that the ULC has developed is the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The UCC is a joint venture between the ULC and the American Law Institute (ALI). In the 1940s, the Falk Foundation supported the UCC’s original development. Proceeds from copyright licensing of UCC materials replenish the Falk Foundation funds. Whenever work on the UCC commences, a percentage of ULC and ALI costs are paid from Falk Foundation income. 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 provides substantial uniformity of commercial law throughout the U.S.
What benefits does the Uniform Law Commission provide?
The ULC’s work simplifies individuals’ lives and facilitates business transactions by providing consistent rules and procedures from state to state. Every day, when a person conducts business, enters a contract, makes a purchase or sale, obtains or transfers property, or takes care of a family matter, it is likely that a ULC law applies.
What kinds of legal issues does the ULC address?
Since the ULC first convened in 1892, it has produced more than 300 uniform acts. These acts focus on commercial law, family and domestic relations law, estates, probate and trusts, real estate, alternate dispute resolution, and much more.
Among the ULC’s most widely adopted acts are the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement act, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, and the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
How are subjects for new acts selected?
The ULC Committee on Scope and Program welcomes proposals from state bars, state government entities, private groups, uniform law commissioners, and private individuals. The committee may assign a proposal to a Study Committee, which researches the topic and decides whether to recommend that an act be drafted.
The Committee on Scope and Program reviews all Study Committee recommendations and delivers its own recommendations to the ULC’s Executive Committee.
An approved recommendation leads to creation of a ULC Drafting Committee. A “Reporter” (drafter) – an expert in the field of law – is hired. Advisor(s) from the American Bar Association and observers from interested organizations and other entities are invited to assist on every Drafting Committee.
How is an act drafted?
ULC procedures ensure meticulous consideration of every act. Each draft act receives a minimum of two years of consideration. Drafting Committees meet throughout the year in an open process that draws on the expertise of state-appointed commissioners, legal experts, and advisors and observers
How does an act receive final ULC approval?
Draft acts are submitted for initial debate of the entire Uniform Law Commission at an annual meeting. The ULC commissioners sit as a Committee of the Whole and closely consider each act in a deliberative setting. Each act must be considered section by section at no less than two annual meetings.
Once the ULC Committee of the Whole approves an act at an annual meeting, the final step is a vote by the states, with each state having one vote. A majority of the states present, and no fewer than twenty states, must approve an act before it is officially approved. Upon final approval, ULC uniform acts are then submitted for consideration by the state legislatures for enactment.
What are the ULC's recent achievements?
The ULC, working in conjunction with the ALI, continues its decades-long project to keep the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) up-to-date and in line with modern commercial practices. Both UCC Article 9 and UCC Article 4A have been recently amended. The ULC and ALI will continue to evaluate carefully the necessity for further amendments or revisions to the UCC.
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.