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What is legislation

The U.K. Parliament creates law in the form of legislation.

In the U.K. there are two main types of legislation:                                                     

  • Primary legislation
    Acts of parliament (Statutes). An Act starts as a Bill (a proposal for a new law) which has to be debated and approved by both Houses of Parliament and then receive the Royal Assent to become an Act of Parliament. An Act of Parliament is a law, enforced in all areas of the U.K. where it is applicable.

  • Secondary Legislation
    Also known as delegated legislation which are the rules and orders made under powers provided under an Act of Parliament i.e. a change in law can be made without a completely new Act of Parliament as long the original Act has provisions that allow for this. Statutory Instruments (SIs) form the majority of this legislation.

Searching for U.K. Legislation

Use the Legislation search in LexisLibrary and/or Westlaw UK to find current, updated versions of U.K. Acts and Statutory Instruments. They also provide annotations and extra information.

It is important to know if you need to look for the amended (the law as it currently stands) or unamended version of an Act. In LexisLibrary you have the option to search the current version or an historical version.

Search by the title of the Act with the year e.g. "The Childcare Act 2006".

Citing UK Legislation (OSCOLA)

Refer to OSCOLA - Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities

Cite an Act by its short-title and year (do not use ‘popular’ titles for an Act).

  • e.g. paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 15 of the Human Rights Act 1998 is expressed as:

   Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b)

Cite a Bill by its title, the House in which it originated, the Parliamentary session in brackets and the running number assigned to it. 

  • e.g. title | HC Bill |(session) | [number] Consolidated Fund HC Bill (2008-09) [5]
  •       title | HL Bill |(session) |number (Note no brackets for the running number) Academies HL Bill (2010-11) 1    

Statutory Instruments (orders, regulations or rules) are numbered consecutively throughout the year. The year combines with the serial number to provide an SI number that follows the abbreviation 'SI'.

  • e.g name, year ('comma') SI number  e.g. Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amendment of Minimum Age) Order 2004, SI 2004/3166