Laws on Burial, Cremation and New Funerary Methods to be reviewed

The Law Commission has announced details of its review of the law governing how we deal with the bodies of loved ones when they die.

The project is being split into three strands :

  • Burial law is governed by a patchwork of different legislation including different laws depending on who is responsible for a burial ground. Burial space is running out, and grave reuse has been proposed as a solution, but reforms must include sufficient safeguards. There are also some unresolved issues around what can be done with cremated ashes. The Law Commission will be considering solutions to these issues and intend to consult on this in autumn 2024.
  • Advances in technology have led to new methods of dealing with people’s remains after they die, such as alkaline hydrolysis and human composting. While these methods are in use in other jurisdictions, in England and Wales they are unregulated. The project will consider what the law should require of these new methods to regulate them. The project will commence in early 2024.
  • At the moment decisions a person makes about what happens to their body after death are not binding. Current rules about who has the right to decide about the remains of a deceased person can lead to family disputes. This project will address these issues and consider who is responsible for making arrangements after a death. We intend that this project will begin at the end of 2025.

Further details of these reviews are available here.

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