On this page you will find links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a Glossary and links to the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Legislation content on this website
- What legislation is held on legislation.gov.uk?
- Will I find new legislation on legislation.gov.uk?
- Why isn't the legislation I am looking for on this site?
- How can I access legislation that isn’t available on legislation.gov.uk?
- What legislation is available as revised?
- How up to date is the revised content on this website?
- Will the revised legislation ever be brought up to date?
- How will I know if the legislation I am viewing is up to date or if there are changes (e.g. effects or amendments) that have not yet been applied to it?
- How up to date are the lists of outstanding changes in the red Changes to Legislation box at the top of legislation items?
- Who produces the latest revised version of the legislation?
- How do I open a whole Act on legislation.gov.uk?
- I don't understand the tooltips, where can I get more help using the site?
- What are annotations?
- Can I search by subject?
- How can I give feedback on legislation.gov.uk?
Help with legislation
- Where do I get help understanding a particular legislation item or area of legislation?
- Can you help me to find the law on a particular subject?
- How do I get advice about a legal problem?
- Where can I find out about the history of a legislation item and the legislative process?
- How do I refer to legislation in an academic work or publication?
Legislation content on this website
Q. What legislation is held on legislation.gov.uk?
A. Legislation.gov.uk carries most (but not all) types of legislation and their accompanying explanatory documents. For a full list of legislation types held on legisliation.gov.uk see Browse Legislation. For further details of how complete our data set is for each type, click on a legislation type from the Browse Legislation page and see the colour coded bar for each year.
- All legislation from 1988 – present day is available on this site (see ‘Why isn’t the legislation I am looking for on this site?’ for details of any known legislation we do not carry). Most pre-1988 primary legislation is available on this site. In some cases we only have the original published (as enacted) version and no revised version. This occurs if the legislation was wholly repealed before 1991 and therefore was not included in the revised data set when it was extracted from Statutes in Force. In other cases we may only have a revised version if the original (as enacted) version is not available in a web-publishable format.
- We are currently in the process of uploading a large selection of secondary legislation from 1948 onwards.
Q. Will I find new legislation on legislation.gov.uk?
A. Yes. Legislation.gov.uk is the official place of publication for newly enacted legislation. The aim is to publish legislation on legislation.gov.uk simultaneously with, or at least within 24 hours, of its publication in printed form. Any document which is especially complex in terms of its size or its typography may take longer to prepare and so a PDF version will be published first. Legislation detailed on the New Legislation page is listed by date published to this website.
Q. Why isn’t the legislation I am looking for on this site?
A. There are two reasons why the item you are looking for is not on this site:
- It may be that we do not carry the item of legislation you are looking for because it is not available in a web publishable format. This is the most likely reason if you are looking for an old legislation item that was repealed before our base date of 1991 or was for some other reason not included in the earlier hard-copy editions of the revised statutes (see below ‘What legislation is available as revised?’). You may be able to obtain a printed copy from The British Library which runs a photocopying service of official publications (including legislation) which they hold, or try the Parliamentary Archives website.
There are a small number of Acts, as listed below, for which we do not carry revised versions on the website for technical reasons. We hope to include these in the near future.
- 1992 c. 12 Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992
- 1990 c. 1 Capital Allowances Act 1990
- 1988 c. 1 Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988
- 1970 c. 9 Taxes Management Act 1970
Q. How can I access legislation that isn’t available on legislation.gov.uk?
A. Where legislation is not available on legislation.gov.uk, it may be possible to view or obtain a copy from one of the sources listed below.
Most law, university and major public libraries will hold published annual bound volumes of both primary and secondary legislation. Older primary legislation (pre- the 1900s) is normally found in either the “Statutes of the Realm” or “Statutes at Large”. Prior to the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 (c.36), secondary legislation was known as Statutory Rules and Orders (SROs). From 1894 until 31 December 1947 SROs were a numbered annual series. SROs existed prior to 1894 but were un-numbered. The publication of annual volumes of SROs began in 1890. Prior to this there was no systematic publication of these Rules, Orders and Regulations. Sometimes they would appear in an Official Publication such as the London Gazette or a Parliamentary Paper or a Stationery Office Publication, while a portion of them can only be found in papers printed by the Department concerned or in text books. Information regarding SROs can be found in the publication entitled Table of Government Orders.
In Northern Ireland Primary and subordinate legislation not available on legislation.gov.uk can be found in the Annual Volumes of legislation for Northern Ireland. For revised Northern Ireland Primary legislation please refer to the Statutes Revised (Northern Ireland) 2nd Edition 1981 or contact email@example.com who can generally help users find older Northern Ireland Statutory Rules and pre-1921 Northern Ireland legislation.
British History Online has the text from Statutes of the Realm of Public Acts dating between 1628-1701 (excluding 1629 to 1640 during which time Parliament was not summoned to sit) and the text of the Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum from 1642-1660.
The Research and Enquiries Room Library at The National Archives holds bound volumes of legislation as do the Social Sciences Reading Rooms at the British Library. Other major libraries holding UK Legislation are: The Bodleian Library, Oxford; The University Library, Cambridge; The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh; The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth; The Main Library - The Queen's University of Belfast and The Library of Trinity College, Dublin. The Law Society offers access to its Library free of charge to Solicitors in the UK and Wales as well as offering paid for day pass access to people who are not members of the Law Society (please note day passes must be applied for in advance and access is limited to hard copy resources only).
Official copies of all Acts are lodged with Parliamentary Archives. The Parliamentary Archives website also has guidance on the Records of the House of Lords and House of Commons. The Parliamentary Archives are open to the public however visits are by appointment only and must be made at least two working days in advance. Please contact Parliamentary Archives by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: +44 (0)20 7219 3074) to arrange a visit.
The repositories at The National Archives hold a variety of legislation which can be viewed in the Reading Rooms. Please see the guidance Looking for Records of Parliament available on The National Archives website as well as Privy Council since 1386 which includes information about how to locate local statutory instruments (also see information on local statutory instruments further down this section). To view original documents, you will need to obtain a reader's ticket by bringing two forms of identification with you when you visit. For further details please see the Before You Visit pages on The National Archives website where you can also find details about Ordering Documents in Advance.
A list of major collections of local legislation in the United Kingdom can be found on the website at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/changes/chron-tables/local/intro (scroll down to the page to Section 6). Many of these may also hold general legislation. This area of the website also provides access to the Chronological Table of Local Acts and the Chronological Tables of the Private and Personal Acts. The Chronological Table of the Statutes for general primary legislation is not yet available in electronic format. Users wishing to reference this publication should visit a major public, university or law library.
Local Statutory Instruments (SIs) are not normally printed and we only recently started uploading PDFs of local non-print SIs onto the website. There is no intention of retrospectively uploading older non-print SIs as most are not in electronic format. Photocopies of UK and Welsh local non-print Statutory Instruments from 1922 to 2006 can be ordered from The National Archives by using the online contact form stating that you would like a copy of a local statutory instrument held in repository reference TS37 citing the SI Year, Number and Title wherever possible. Requests for local non-print Statutory Instruments not yet deposited in the repository (i.e. post 2006 SIs) and not available on the website should be emailed to: email@example.com. Local Scottish Statutory Instruments are lodged with The National Archives of Scotland (email: firstname.lastname@example.org – phone: +44(0)131 535 1352 (Legal Search Room)). For local Northern Ireland Statutory Rules, please contact the Statutory Publications Office in Belfast on +44(0)28 9052 3237 or email email@example.com.
Printed copies of enacted legislation and other official publications can be purchased from The Stationery Office Limited (TSO) (email: firstname.lastname@example.org – phone: +44 (0) 870 600 5522. Printed copies of revised versions of legislation are normally only available through specialist legal publishers.
Q. What legislation is available as revised?
A. Most types of primary legislation (e.g. Acts, Measures, N.I. Orders in Council) are held in ‘revised’ form:
- Public General Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament (1801 to date)
- Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain (1707 – 1800)
- Acts of the English Parliament (1267 – 1706)
- Acts of the Old Scottish Parliament (1424 – 1707)
- Acts of the Scottish Parliament (1999 to date)
- Acts of the National Assembly for Wales (2012 to date)
- Measures of the National Assembly for Wales (2008 – 2011)
- Acts of the Irish Parliament (1495 – 1800)
- Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland (1921 – 1972)
- Measures of the Northern Ireland Assembly (1974)
- Orders in Council made under the Northern Ireland Acts (1972 to date) (effectively the primary legislation for Northern Ireland under direct rule, though in the form of Statutory Instruments)
- Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly (2000 – 2002 and 2007 to date)
- Church of England Measures (1920 to date)
Revised versions of some secondary legislation (e.g Statutory Instruments) is also held on legislation.gov.uk. More secondary legislation is being revised as part of our work and will be published as it becomes available.
By ‘revised’ we mean that amendments made by subsequent legislation are incorporated into the text. Most types of secondary legislation are not revised and are held only in the form in which they were originally made.
The originating text of the revised content was derived mainly from the publication Statutes in Force (SIF), a ‘loose-leaf’ style official edition of the revised statute book arranged according to subject matter. SIF was regularly updated with the effects of new legislation made until 1 February 1991. The date of this final revision became the ‘base date’ from which the revised content has been taken forward on the web. SIF did not generally include certain categories of legislation, such as Statute Law Revision Acts, Statute Law (Repeals) Acts and Acts extending only to Northern Ireland. (For further details, see the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk at page 6). The other main source of revised legislation held on legislation.gov.uk is The Northern Ireland Statutes Revised, the official revised version of the primary legislation of Northern Ireland. The content of the numbered volumes and their supplements covering the period from 1921 onwards has been incorporated into legislation.gov.uk as it stood at 31 December 2005.
Q. How up to date is the revised content on this website?
A. All legislation held on legislation.gov.uk in revised form has been updated with effects of legislation made up to 2002 (except for some effects of 2002 legislation that were not yet in force at the end of 2002). About half of all items of legislation are also up-to-date to the present. For the remainder there are still effects outstanding for at least one of the years 2003 to the current year. See the Changes to Legislation page for more information.
Q. Will the revised legislation ever be brought up to date?
A. Yes. We have embarked on a programme designed to bring the revised legislation fully up to date. There are two main elements to this work. The first element is the development of improved editorial tools and processes, with greater use of electronic capture of legislation information. The new systems will make the revision of legislation faster and more flexible, and enable editors to contribute remotely. The second element, building on the greater usability of the new systems, involves the contribution of external expert participants who are willing to work collaboratively with us towards the common goal of a comprehensive and up-to-date official source of revised legislation. We will also continue to revise legislation ourselves and to maintain stringent standards of quality assurance through our in-house team of review editors. Participants include experts employed by legal publishers, UK government departments and the devolved administrations. Although we are concentrating at present on bringing primary legislation up to date, expert participation will enable us to start including selected secondary legislation in our programme of work.
Q. How will I know if the legislation I am viewing is up to date or if there are changes (e.g. effects or amendments) that have not yet been applied to it?
A. When you access an item of legislation, in the first instance a 'Changes to Legislation' message will appear at the top of the Table of Contents. This will either state that there are no known outstanding changes to the Act you are viewing or that there are some outstanding changes yet to be applied by the legislation.gov.uk Editorial Team. On opening the content of any item of legislation that has outstanding changes and effects waiting to be applied to it by the editorial team the outstanding effects are listed at the top of the provision.
Q. How up to date are the lists of outstanding changes in the red Changes to Legislation box at the top of legislation items?
A. The changes to legislation (e.g. effects and amendments) displayed at the top of the page when you are viewing revised legislation are added as soon as possible after the new legislation is received. However, the Changes to Legislation facility on the website is updated with the effects of new legislation only after a series of preparatory editorial processes have been completed. These processes typically take from four to eight weeks to complete depending on the volume of new legislation. In some cases, such as where an Act is very large or heavily affecting, or a large number of Acts have received Royal Assent at the same time, it may take longer.
Q. Who produces the latest revised version of the legislation?
A. Responsibility for the revised content of legislation.gov.uk lies with the Legislation Editorial Team at The National Archives in London and the staff of the Northern Ireland Statutory Publications Office in Belfast. For further details, go to the 'About Us' tab at the top of any web page on the site. Increasingly, in the future, revision work will be carried out by external expert participants as well as in-house editors, though our in-house review editors will continue to ensure the high quality of the published output. (For further information, see above ‘Will the revised legislation ever be brought up to date?’)
Q. How do I open a whole Act on legislation.gov.uk?
A. Once you have completed a search on legislation and have selected an item of legislation, you will be taken to the Table of Contents for that item of legislation. From this page you can open the legislation at any level by selecting opening options on the left-hand menu. It is also possible to use ‘print options’ to generate a PDF of the whole Act.
Q. I don’t understand the tooltips where can I get more help using the site?
A. A full Glossary of terms used on this site both in the help tips and within the functionality is available at the foot of this page.
The Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk gives an overview of the approach the legislation.gov.uk Editorial Team takes when applying changes and effects to the latest revised versions of legislation.
If you can not find the answer you are looking for on this page please contact us.
Q. What are annotations?
A. Annotations are notes that appear at the foot of a piece of legislative text on legislation.gov.uk. They are mainly used to provide the authority for amendments or other effects on the legislation, but they may also be used to convey other editorial information.
Each annotation has a reference number and the nature of the information it contains is conveyed by the annotation type. For instance, F-notes identify amendments where there is authority to change the text, and I-notes contain information about the coming into force of a provision. For further details, see the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk.
Q. Can I search by subject?
A. It is not currently possible to search all legislation on this site by subject. It is however possible to browse secondary legislation by Subject Heading from the Browse Legislation tab. Subject Headings are assigned to SIs when they are drafted and relate to their enabling power.
Q. How can I give feedback on legislation.gov.uk?
A. We would welcome any feedback or comments you have about legislation.gov.uk. Please email us your feedback.
Help with legislation
Q. Where do I get help understanding a particular legislation item or area of legislation?
A. To obtain further information on a particular legislation item or area of legislation, you should contact the government department responsible for the legislation. You can determine the department responsible for a particular piece of legislation by looking at the signature block on the Statutory Instruments (SIs) relating to the legislation. For Acts, if they have an accompanying Explanatory Note (found under the "Explanatory Notes" or "More Resources" tab) the introductory paragraph normally identifies the government department that sponsored the Act through Parliament. Please note Explanatory Notes for Acts in the United Kingdom were only introduced in 1999. Additionally certain financial Acts do not usually have Explanatory Notes, including Appropriation Acts and Consolidated Fund Acts. Acts that have been introduced to Parliament by the House of Lords often do not have accompanying Explanatory Notes. Some Departments have changed names over the years, so you may need to make a determination as to which department you believe currently has the remit for the particular area of responsibility you are interested in.
Some UK SIs also have an accompanying Explanatory Memorandum (not the Explanatory Note at the end of the SI) where you will find a paragraph that contains contact details for that particular piece of legislation. This is normally Paragraph 13 for most SIs or Paragraph 9 for older SIs). You can find Explanatory Memoranda by clicking on the 'Explanatory Memorandum' or 'More Resources' tabs within the legislation.
You can find government department contact details on the centralised government website- GOV.UK. GOV.UK also has a wealth of information on a variety of subjects which may assist you with your query.
A great deal of legislation (such as building regulations, planning, local roads and parking, licensing, noise, etc) is actually administered by local councils who are normally the best point of contact for advice on these matters. You can also find local council contact details on the GOV.UK website.
Q. Can you help me to find the law on a particular subject?
A. We regret that we are unable to carry out any research on your behalf. Legislation.gov.uk exists as an online resource enabling users to carry out their own research using the search facilities provided. You should bear in mind that the law on any given subject may be contained in many different statutes or statutory instruments and there may be other sources of relevant law, such as case law, that are not held on legislation.gov.uk. For example, you might want to know what the law is concerning ‘direct debits’ and searches on legislation.gov.uk using these terms produce no results. In fact, the law concerning direct debits is not directly governed by statute law at all – it is founded in the common law of contract and is mainly regulated by a non-statutory set of rules together with case law. Our staff do not have the legal knowledge to answer this sort of question and we do not have the resources to carry out the necessary research ourselves on users’ behalf. You may be able to obtain assistance with researching a legal subject by contacting a law library.
Q. How do I get advice about a legal problem?
A. We are unable to provide you with any legal advice, not even advice concerning the correct interpretation of legislation as we do not have any legal expertise at our disposal. Our role is to publish legislation and our task in relation to the revision of legislation is purely an editorial one.
You can obtain advice about legal problems from the Citizens Advice Bureau- which offers a Citizens Advice Service in England and Wales to help people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free information and advice.There are also Citizens Advice Services for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Advice for queries related to specific topics (for example consumer rights, trading standards, employment rights, debt, fraud, adoption, tenants rights, etc.) is often best obtained through specialist organisations, regulatory bodies, or ombudsman services who deal solely with this subject and have in-depth knowledge of what legislation applies in what circumstances. Details of relevant organisations can usually be found by searching either the AdviceGuide websites listed above or on the GOV.UK website
In some cases it is best to obtain professional legal advice. Law Centres provide an independent legal advice and representation service across the UK. Advicenow is an independent, not-for-profit website providing accurate, up-to-date information on rights and legal issues.
The Law Society for England and Wales represents solicitors and provides information on finding a solicitor and the Solicitors Regulation Authority which regulates solicitors in England and Wales, provides information on what to expect when using a solicitor. The Law Society of Scotland represents and regulates solicitors in Scotland and can help you find a solicitor in Scotland and The Law Society of Northern Ireland represents and regulates solicitors in Northern Ireland and can help you find a solicitor in Northern Ireland. The Legal Ombudsman has formal powers to resolve complaints about lawyers and solicitors.
Q. Where can I find out about the history of a legislation item and the legislative process?
A. Acts start out as Bills and only become part of the statute book once they have passed all stages of Parliamentary procedure and receive Royal Assent. Once they have received Royal Assent, Acts are published under the authority of the Queen’s Printer to this website. Information about a Bill’s passage can be found on the individual national Parliamentary and Assembly websites for the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales.These websites also contain information on their particular legislative process and procedures. The history of the parliamentary debates relating to Bills in the UK Parliament can be found in Hansard the edited verbatim report of proceedings of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Q. How do I refer to legislation in academic work or publication?
A. The way in which legislation should be referred to in academic work and publications depends on the referencing style adopted by the academic institution or publishing house in question. For example, many universities use style guides based on the Harvard Referencing Style. The particular style requirements of each institution or publisher may differ, however, and you should always check with your faculty or publisher how they expect you to refer to legislation in your work. Bearing this in mind, you may find the following information useful:
Title, year and number
The formats described here reflect generally accepted practice among legislators and legal practitioners.
Public General Acts of the UK Parliament
These may be cited by the short title (which includes the year) and chapter number (bracketed), e.g. Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c. 4).
Citations of pre-1963 Acts may also contain a reference to the 'regnal year'(that is, the year of the sovereign's reign) of the session of parliament in which the Act was passed, e.g. Statute of Westminster 1931 (22 and 23 Geo. 5 c. 4). This means that the Act was passed in 1931 during the session of Parliament spanning the 22nd and 23rd years of the reign of King George the Fifth.
Local Acts of the UK Parliament
These may be cited by the short title (which includes the year) and chapter number in Roman numerals (bracketed), e.g. London Local Authorities Act 1996 (c. ix)
Acts of Earlier Parliaments
These may be cited in exactly the same way as UK Public General Acts except that, in the case of Acts of the old Scottish or Irish parliaments, there might also be a letter 'S' or 'I' as appropriate in square brackets at the end of the citation, e.g. Writs Act 1672 (c. 16 [S])
Acts of the Scottish Parliament
These may be cited by the short title (which includes the year) and 'asp' number (bracketed), e.g. Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 (asp 4).
Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly (and other primary legislation for Northern Ireland)
These may be cited by the short title (which includes the year) and chapter number (bracketed), e.g. Social Security Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 (c. 10).
Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland (1921 to 1972) and Measures of the Northern Ireland Assembly (1974 only) are cited in exactly the same way as Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
For the citation of Northern Ireland Orders in Council, see under 'Statutory Instruments' below.
These may be cited by the short title (which includes the year) and Measure number (bracketed), e.g. Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 (No. 3).
These may be cited by the title (which includes the year) and Statutory Instrument (S.I.) number (bracketed), e.g. The Detergents Regulations 2005 (S.I. 2005/2469).
Northern Ireland Orders in Council (which are in the form of Statutory Instruments), will be cited similarly, but with the addition of the 'N.I'series number, e.g. The Budget (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 (S.I. 2005/860) (N.I. 3.).
Scottish Statutory Instruments
These may be cited by the title (which includes the year) and Scottish Statutory Instrument (S.S.I.) number (bracketed), e.g. The Tuberculosis (Scotland) Order 2005 (S.S.I. 2005/434).
Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland
These may be cited by the title (which includes the year) and Statutory Rules (S.R.) number (bracketed), e.g. The Quarries Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (S.R. 2006/205).
These instruments do not have any series numbers, perhaps because there are so few of them. They are generally cited by date in the style: Instrument dated 14.12.2000 made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York or, occasionally: Archbishops' Instrument dated 14.12.2000.
There is no readily identifiable 'author'of an Act or Statutory Instrument in the same way as there is an author of a book or article. If there could be said to be an 'author'it would be the Crown. Check with your faculty or publisher whether this information is really needed in the reference and, if so, how they want it to be expressed.
This information can be found on the printed Act or instrument, or in the bound volume. Except for very old legislation (before 1889), the publisher will either be His or Her Majesty's Stationery Office ('HMSO') or. since 1996 (1997 for Acts).'The Stationery Office Limited' (a private company which publishes legislation under the authority and superintendence of HMSO under contract).
Place of Publication
The 'place of publication' is only ever given as 'UK' on printed copies of legislation. If a more particular location is really required, the place of publication can generally be taken to depend on the legislature from which the legislation originated: London (for Acts of the UK parliament and Statutory Instruments made under them); Edinburgh (for Acts of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Statutory Instruments); Belfast (for Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland made under them); or Cardiff (for Measures of the National Assembly for Wales or Statutory Instruments made by the Assembly).
How to cite the revised version of an Act
You would cite a revised version of an Act in exactly the same way as you would cite the Act as originally enacted (i.e., in this case, the XXX Act YYYY (c. NN)) but, by convention, you might then add "(as amended)" to indicate that you are referring to the revised version.
Where a term defined below begins with a capital letter, this indicates that the term usually begins with a capital letter when it is used in legislation or in annotations.
For more detailed information about the revised legislation on the website, including editorial practice, see the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk.
A law enacted by a parliament or similar legislative body. In the UK, Acts may be made by the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, or the Northern Ireland Assembly. Historically, Acts were also made by the parliaments that met before the UK came into existence and by the Parliament of Northern Ireland (1921 to 1972).
Acts are a form of primary legislation.
- affected provision
A provision (e.g. a section) subject to one or more changes or effects.
- affecting provision
A provision that gives rise to one or more changes or effects.
An effect that changes the text of legislation. The term ‘amended’ is also sometimes used on legislation.gov.uk to indicate an effect that changes the meaning of the legislation even though the text itself is not changed.
A note that appears at the foot of a provision (or under the associated heading if relating to a higher-level division) and which gives authority for an effect or extra information about the provision in general or a specific part of that provision.
Each annotation has a reference number and the nature of the information it contains is conveyed by the annotation type. For instance, F-notes identify amendments where there is authority to change the text, and I-notes contain information about the coming into force of a provision.
- base date
The term we use for the starting point from which the revision of legislation on legislation.gov.uk (and previously on the UK Statute Law Database) has been carried forward. It is the date to which the text of the earlier hard copy editions had been revised when used as the originating text for the electronic version.
For most types of revised legislation on legislation.gov.uk, the base date is 1 February 1991.
The originating text for most types of legislation was derived mainly from ‘Statutes in Force’ (SIF), an earlier official edition of the revised statute book. The final revision of SIF incorporated all effects of legislation made or enacted up to 1 February 1991, but the effects of a small number of consolidation Acts enacted after the base date, in 1991 and 1992, were also incorporated.
For the revised legislation of Northern Ireland on legislation.gov.uk, the base date is 1 January 2006.
The originating text for this legislation was ‘The Northern Ireland Statutes Revised’, the official edition of the revised statute book for Northern Ireland. The final revision of that text incorporated all effects of legislation made or enacted up to 31 December 2005.
- blanket amendment
An effect that is framed in such a way as to affect legislation generally rather than any specific enactment.
- C-notes - Modifications etc (not altering text)
‘C’ stands for ‘Cross-notes’, so called because of the way in which they were presented in the hard copy predecessors to the revised content on legislation.gov.uk. This annotation type is used to denote the effect when the meaning, scope or application of an Act or provision etc. is changed in some way, but without there being any authority to alter the text. Typical expressions of effects of this kind are ‘modified’, ‘applied’, ‘excluded’, ‘extended’, ‘restricted’, etc.
The terms ‘changes’ and ‘changes to legislation’ are sometimes used on this site instead of the term ‘effects’.
- The sequential number of an Act (except an Act of the Scottish Parliament) is called a ‘Chapter number’. For example, the Police Reform Act 2002 is Chapter 30 in the year 2002. ‘Chapter’ is usually abbreviated:
Police Reform Act 2002 (c. 30)
- A numbered level of division within an Act or other legislation. Chapters generally come below Parts but above cross-headings in the hierarchy.
- The sequential number of an Act (except an Act of the Scottish Parliament) is called a ‘Chapter number’. For example, the Police Reform Act 2002 is Chapter 30 in the year 2002. ‘Chapter’ is usually abbreviated:
- Church Instrument
A type of secondary legislation made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York under authority contained in Church Measures.
- "coming into force" date
The date on which a legislative provision or an effect comes into force. Also known as the commencement date.
The coming into force of a provision or an effect.
The commencement of a piece of legislation may be determined by a provision of the legislation itself, referred to as the ‘commencement provision', or it may be determined by a special type of Statutory Instrument known as a ‘Commencement Order’.
- confers power
This term is used where a provision confers power to make secondary legislation.
In primary legislation, an italic heading that indicates the subject matter of a provision or group of provisions beneath it. In the hierarchical structure of legislation, it comes below Part or Chapter level but above the level of the lowest level of provision, such as the section in an Act.
It is called a cross-heading because it is usually centred, running across the page. However, in the new style of drafting adopted for most primary legislation since 2001, cross-headings in Schedules (but not in the main body) are ranged left.
Note that in secondary legislation there are elements called cross-headings that may appear differently to those in primary legislation and do not necessarily serve the same function.
A term we use to denote any one of the hierarchical levels into which a piece of legislation may be divided.
For instance, the two main divisions of an Act are the main body and the schedules, and these are preceded by the long title, the short title and any other introductory text. Lower levels of division within the main body and schedules may include Parts, Chapters and cross-headings. The lowest levels of division in an Act are sections (in the main body) or paragraphs (in the schedules).
For further information see Structure of Legislation.
- E-notes – Geographical Extent information
This annotation type contains information about the geographic extent of the Act or relevant part of it.
E-notes are at present used very sparingly, mainly to indicate some complexity or change in the extent which is not adequately reflected in the extent provision of the Act (although they have been used more extensively in the past). They are also used where there are multiple versions of a provision created for different geographical extents.
Any impact that one legislative provision may have on another. The most familiar type of effect is an amendment that changes the text of the affected legislation, but there are also types of effect that do not change the text, such as where a provision is said to be ‘modified’ or ‘applied’. Other events, such as the commencement of a provision, are also treated as effects for the purposes of legislation.gov.uk.
Note that a piece of legislation, such as an Act, may contain internal effects. For example, a provision in an Act may modify or apply some other provision in the same Act. These internal effects are not generally annotated. The main exception is where an Act amends its own text, which may happen, for example, when an Act repeals itself, or part of itself, at some future date. Also, certain internal effects to do with commencement and extent may be recorded.
- Executive Note
An Executive Note sets out a brief statement of the purpose of a Scottish Statutory Instrument and provides information about its policy objective and policy implications. It aims to make the Scottish Statutory Instrument accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Executive Notes accompany any Scottish Statutory Instrument or Draft Scottish Statutory Instrument laid before the Scottish Parliament from July 2005 onwards. From July 2012 onwards, these are replaced by Policy Notes.
- exercise of power
This expression may be used in annotations in a provision that confers power to make secondary (or subordinate) legislation to record the making of instruments under that power.
- Explanatory Note
Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act (or Measure) to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.
Text called an Explanatory Note also appears following the legislative text of Statutory Instruments, Scottish Statutory Instruments or Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland. For Welsh Statutory Instruments the Explanatory Note precedes the body of the Instrument in print format but follows the legislative text in html format. The Explanatory Note is intended to give a concise and clear statement of the substance of the instrument. The instrument may also be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum, Executive Note or Policy Note.
- Explanatory Memorandum
An Explanatory Memorandum (EM) sets out a brief statement of the purpose of a Statutory Instrument or Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland and provides information about its policy objective and policy implications. It aims to make the Statutory Instruments or Rules accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. EMs accompany any Statutory Instrument or Draft Statutory Instrument laid before Parliament from June 2004 onwards and any Statutory Rule laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly (or UK Parliament during the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly) since June 2004.
See ‘geographical extent’.
- F-notes - Amendments (Textual)
F’ stands for ‘Footnotes’. This annotation type is used for amendments, including repeals, where there is authority to change the text.
- geographical extent
The geographical area within the UK to which legislation applies.
The term ߢextentߣ when used in legislation refers to the jurisdiction(s) for which it is law. Thus, the extent may be the whole of the UK or one or more of the three jurisdictions within the UK: England and Wales; Scotland; and Northern Ireland. Note that ߢEnglandߣ and ߢWalesߣ are not separate jurisdictions. The term ߢextentߣ is currently used more loosely on legislation.gov.uk for searching purposes, to help users find legislation relevant to each of the four geographical parts of the UK. For this reason, it may denote a limited territorial application within a wider technical extent. For example, the extent of the legislation may be ߢEngland and Walesߣ but it only applies to Wales. In due course, changes will be made to the way in which ߢextentߣ information is presented on legislation.gov.uk so that information about extent and limited territorial application within a wider extent will be displayed separately.
Currently, each ߢextentߣ is represented by one of, or a combination of, England (E), Wales (W), Scotland (S) and Northern Ireland (NI). Thus, a UK extent is E+W+S+NI and a GB extent is E+W+S. This information can be displayed within revised legislation when it is being viewed by selecting ‘show geographical extent’ in the left-hand column.
Every version of every provision, and every higher level of division, within a piece of legislation is assigned its own extent. In the case of higher levels of divisions the extent will be set wide enough to include the extent of all the provisions within it.
In some limited cases there may be multiple versions created to represent differing geographical extents (previously referred to as ‘concurrent versions’ on the UK Statute Law Database). Two or more versions of a provision (or other level of division of legislation) are created where a substitution of text (or of the whole provision etc.) affects only part of the original geographical extent of the provision. Such versions have the same start date and continue to run alongside one another.
For instance, if there is a substitution of text in a provision that extends to the whole of the UK, but the substitution affects Wales only, two versions result: one for the provision in its unamended state to cover England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and one for the provision as amended to cover Wales.
‘Hierarchy’ and ‘hierarchical structure’ are terms we use to denote the levels of division within a piece of legislation on legislation.gov.uk and the relationship between them. For example, the level of a cross-heading in an Act comes below the Part level in the hierarchy, but above the section level.
- I-notes - Commencement information
‘I’ stands for ‘In-force’. This annotation type contains information about the coming into force of a provision and will typically state whether it is partly or wholly in force, give the date or dates of commencement and cite relevant provisions of the Act and any commencing instruments.
At present, I-notes are used only if there is some complexity in the commencement. If the provision came into force on one day for all purposes, no I-note will be created and the in-force date will be the same as the start date of the earliest version of the provision.
Describes a specific type of amendment where new text is inserted into existing text. If the new text is to be placed at the end of the existing text, the term ‘added’ may be used instead.
- introductory text
A term we use to denote the text elements at the top of an item of legislation, below the title (or short title) but above the main body. In an Act, this will typically consist of the long title, the date the Act received the Royal Assent, and a conventional form of words to give effect to the Act called the ‘words of enactment’.
- Latest available (revised):
The latest available revised version of the legislation incorporating changes (i.e. amendments and other effects) made by subsequent legislation and applied by the legislation.gov.uk editorial team. Changes we have not yet applied to the text can be found listed under ‘Changes to Legislation’.
The generic term for laws of any type. The terms ‘piece of legislation’ and ‘item of legislation’ are used within some of our help information to mean a whole legislative document of any type, for example an Act or Statutory Instrument.
- long title
Acts and Measures have two titles, the ‘short title’ and the ‘long title’. The ‘long title’ sets out the purposes of the Act, sometimes at great length, whereas the ‘short title’ is a more convenient short form by which the Act will usually be known. For example, the Petroleum Act 1998 (short title) has a long title that reads:
‘An Act to consolidate certain enactments about petroleum, offshore installations and submarine pipelines.’
On legislation.gov.uk, the long title forms part of the introductory text of the legislation.
- M-notes - Marginal citations
This annotation type is so called because it used to appear in the margin of the Queen’s Printer’s copy of primary legislation. M-notes recite the year and number of an Act or instrument mentioned in the text.
- "made" date
The date on which a Statutory Instrument, or other item of secondary legislation, is formally brought into being. It may come into force at a different date. Secondary legislation is usually said to be ‘made’, as opposed to Acts and other primary legislation which are usually said to be ‘enacted’. For this reason, the phrase ‘made or enacted’ may be used on this site when referring to legislation generally.
- A type of primary legislation passed by the General Synod of the Church of England – see 'Church of England Measures' in the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk.
- A type of primary legislation passed by the short-lived Northern Ireland Assembly in 1974 (the present Northern Ireland Assembly passes Acts) – see 'Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly (and other primary legislation for Northern Ireland)' in the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk.
- A type of primary legislation passed by the National Assembly for Wales from 2008 to 2011– see 'Measures of the National Assembly for Wales' in the Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk. The National Assembly for Wales may now pass Acts.
- Order in Council
A type of legislation, made by the Queen on the advice of the Privy Council (a body consisting of Ministers of the Crown). These Orders may be made under powers contained in statute, in which case they take the form of Statutory Instruments, notably those to legislate for Northern Ireland during periods of direct rule. (Note, however, that many Orders in Council are made under the residual prerogative of the Crown. These are known as ‘Prerogative Orders’ and are not carried on legislation.gov.uk.)
- Order of Council
Such Orders differ from Orders in Council in that they are made by the Privy Council without the need for any approval by the Queen. Otherwise, similar considerations apply. They may be made under statutory powers (as Statutory Instruments) or under the prerogative, and in the latter case they are not carried on legislation.gov.uk.
- Original (As enacted or as made):
The original version of the legislation as it stood when it was enacted or made. No changes have been applied to the text.
- P-notes - Subordinate legislation made
‘P’ stands for ‘Power exercised’. Where a provision of primary legislation confers power to make subordinate legislation and that power is exercised (i.e. an instrument is made in pursuance of it), that exercise may be recorded in a P-note. The annotation will cite any instruments made under that power.
At present, the P-note annotation type is used only in respect of the making of commencement orders (distinguished by a ‘C’ series number after the number of the instrument) or other exercises of a power to appoint a day.
A provision, usually numbered, constituting on legislation.gov.uk the lowest level of division in a Schedule. (But note that the term ‘paragraph’ may also be used in legislation to denote certain levels of sub-division within a provision.)
A division of the main body or a schedule in an item of legislation, usually forming part of a numbered sequence of Parts.
A Part may be further subdivided hierarchically into Chapters, cross-headings and numbered sections (or paragraphs, if in a schedule).
- Policy Note
Policy Notes replaced Executive Notes in relation to Scottish Statutory Instruments during July 2012, and serve the same purpose.
Generally used on legislation.gov.uk to mean a power to make secondary (or subordinate) legislation contained in a provision that ‘confers power’. The making of an item of secondary legislation in pursuance of such a power is referred to as an ‘exercise of power’.
Words appearing near the beginning of an Act after the long title, stating the reasons for passing the Act. The use of preambles is optional and they are now rare. Any preamble would appear in the introductory text.
- primary legislation
General term used to describe the main laws passed by the legislative bodies of the UK (e.g. an Act of the UK Parliament). It is to be distinguished from secondary legislation.
A term we use to indicate that a provision or an amendment has not yet come into force.
- prospective version
A version of a provision (or other level of division of legislation) with no start date, created as a result of an amendment that has not yet come into force.
The term provision is used to describe a definable element in a piece of legislation that has legislative effect. Most commonly in the help documentation and messages on this site it will be used to refer to a section (or corresponding element such as a paragraph in a Schedule or an article in an Order) but it can also refer to higher level divisions such as Parts or Chapters.
- Regnal years
Regnal years refer to the year of the sovereign’s reign for the session of parliament in which the Act was passed and may be referenced when citing legislation made pre-1963.
Describes a specific type of amendment where existing text ceases to have effect and may also be removed from the legislation. Repeals may also relate to a whole Act. The amending legislation may alternatively (or, in many cases, additionally) specify that words or provisions ‘shall be omitted’ or ‘shall cease to have effect’.
- repeals schedule
A schedule in an item of legislation, usually at the end, in which the legislative provisions repealed by that legislation are listed.
- revised legislation
We use the terms ‘revise’, ‘revised’ and ‘revision’ to refer to the editorial process of incorporating amendments and carrying through other effects into legislation.
An item of legislation may have one or more schedules following the main body. Where this is the case, the Schedules (collectively) constitute a major structural division within the legislation. Within this higher level of division, there may be either a single Schedule or a series of numbered Schedules. (Note that the term 'schedule' is not usually spelt with a capital 'S' in Acts of the Scottish Parliament.)
- Scottish Statutory Instrument
A type of secondary legislation made under authority contained in Acts of the Scottish Parliament.
- secondary legislation
Delegated legislation, such as a Statutory Instrument, made by a person or body under authority contained in primary legislation. It is also referred to as ‘subordinate legislation’.
A provision, usually numbered, constituting on legislation.gov.uk the lowest level of division in the main body of an Act or other primary legislation.
- short title
The title by which an Act or Measure is usually known. It is to be distinguished from the long title, which sets out the purposes of the legislation.
- start date
The start date of a version is the earliest date for which it had effect to any extent or for any purpose.
An item of primary legislation, such as an Act or Measure.
- statute book
A term we use to denote the totality of the statute law in force at any particular time.
- Statutory Instrument
A type of secondary legislation made under authority contained in Acts of Parliament.
- Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland
A type of secondary legislation, they are the Northern Ireland equivalent of Statutory Instruments.
- Stop Date
The date on which a version is succeeded by a new version or otherwise ceases to have effect.
- subordinate legislation
See secondary legislation.
Any sub-division of a provision.
Describes a specific type of amendment where existing text is replaced by new text.
- successive versions
A successive version of a provision (or higher level of division of legislation) is a new version that replaces an earlier version. A new version is created whenever the text is amended.
- Timeline of Changes
Facility on legislation.gov.uk providing access to revised legislation as it stood at specific points in time. The dates displayed on the timeline of any given provision are the start dates of the versions of that provision generated by successive amendments, or there may be an indication that a version is prospective. The timeline can be used to navigate through the versions to see how the provision being viewed has changed over time or may change in the future.
- On this site ‘version’ may refer to the ‘as enacted’ version of the legislation or the ‘latest available (revised)’ version. This information will be displayed in the ‘What Version’ area when viewing legislation.
- ‘Version’ is also used in the context of revised legislation to refer to one of any number of versions of a provision (or higher level of division of legislation) that may exist in any number of different versions, usually created as a result of amendments made to it. These versions can be viewed by showing the Timeline of Changes.
- Welsh Statutory Instrument
A type of Statutory Instrument relating specifically to Wales made under authority contained in Acts of Parliament, in Measures of the National Assembly for Wales, or in Acts of the National Assembly for Wales.
- words of enactment
Formal words of legislative intent appearing at the beginning of an Act after the Long Title. Words of enactment appear in the introductory text.
- X-notes - Editorial information
The X-note annotation type is used sparingly to alert users to anything they may need to be aware of in using the text. They have been used, for example, to explain potential difficulties arising from variations in pre-SLD editorial practice over the years or to point to uncertainties in the text of very old Acts.
The Guide to Revised Legislation on legislation.gov.uk provides comprehensive and detailed information about the revised legislation on the website, including the editorial practice followed in updating the revised legislation.