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Interpretation Act 1978

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Revised legislation carried on this site may not be fully up to date. At the current time any known changes or effects made by subsequent legislation have been applied to the text of the legislation you are viewing by the editorial team. Please see ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ for details regarding the timescales for which new effects are identified and recorded on this site.

    • [F1Act” means an Act of Parliament.]

    • Associated state” means a territory maintaining a status of association with the United Kingdom in accordance with the M1West Indies Act 1967. [16th February 1967]

    • Bank of England” means, as the context requires, the Governor and Company of the Bank of England or the bank of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.

    • Bank of Ireland” means, as the context requires, the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland or the bank of the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland.

    • British Islands” means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. [1889]

    • [F2British overseas territory” has the same meaning as in the British Nationality Act 1981;]

    • British possession” means any part of Her Majesty’s dominions outside the United Kingdom; and where parts of such dominions are under both a central and a local legislature, all parts under the central legislature are deemed, for the purposes of this definition, to be one British possession. [1889]

    • F3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    • Building regulations”, in relation to England and Wales, [F4has the meaning given by section 122 of the Building Act 1984]

    • Central funds”, in an enactment providing in relation to England and Wales for the payment of costs out of central funds, means money provided by Parliament.

    • [F5Charity Commission” means the Charity Commission for England and Wales (see section 13 of the Charities Act 2011).]

    • Church Commissioners” means the Commissioners constituted by the M2Church Commissioners Measure 1947.

    • [F6Civil partnership” means a civil partnership which exists under or by virtue of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (and any reference to a civil partner is to be read accordingly).]

    • Colonial legislature”, and “legislature” in relation to a British possession, mean the authority, other than the Parliament of the United Kingdom or Her Majesty in Council, competent to make laws for the possession. [1889]

    • Colony” means any part of Her Majesty’s dominions outside the British Islands except—

      (a)

      countries having fully responsible status within the Commonwealth;

      (b)

      territories for whose external relations a country other than the United Kingdom is responsible;

      (c)

      associated states:

      and where parts of such dominions are under both a central and a local legislature, all parts under the central legislature are deemed for the purposes of this definition to be one colony. [1889]

    • Commencement”, in relation to an Act or enactment, means the time when the Act or enactment comes into force.

    • Committed for trial” means—

      (a)

      [F7in relation to England and Wales, committed in custody or on bail by a magistrates’ court pursuant to [F8section 6 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980], or by any judge or other authority having power to do so, with a view to trial before a judge and jury; [1889]]

      (b)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, committed in custody or on bail by a magistrates’ court pursuant to [F9Article 37 of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981], or by a court, judge, resident magistrate F10. . . or other authority having power to do so, with a view to trial on indictment. [1st January 1979]

    • [F11“The EU” or “the EU Treaties”] and other expressions defined by section 1 of and Schedule 1 to the M3European Communities Act 1972 have the meanings prescribed by that Act.

    • Comptroller and Auditor General” means the Comptroller-General of the receipt and issue of Her Majesty’s Exchequer and Auditor-General of Public Accounts F12. . . .

    • Consular officer” has the meaning assigned by Article 1 of the Vienna Convention set out in Schedule 1 to the M4Consular Relations Act 1968.

    • [F13The Corporation Tax Acts” means the enactments relating to the taxation of the income and chargeable gains of companies and of company distributions (including provisions relating to income tax);]

    • County court” means—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, a court held for a district under [F14the County Courts Act 1984]; [1846]

      (b)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, a court held for a division under the County Courts [F15(Northern Ireland) Order 1980]. [1889]

    • Court of Appeal” means—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in England;

      (b)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.

    • [F16Court of Judicature” means the Court of Judicature of Northern Ireland.]

    • Court of summary jurisdiction”, “summary conviction” and “Summary Jurisdiction Acts”, in relation to Northern Ireland, have the same meanings as in Measures of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

    • Crown Court” means—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the M5Crown Courts Act 1971;

      (b)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, the Crown Court constituted by section 4 of the M6Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978.

    • Crown Estate Commissioners” means the Commissioners referred to in section 1 of the M7Crown Estate Act 1961.

    • [F17EEA agreement” means the agreement on the European Economic Area signed at Oporto on 2nd May 1992, together with the Protocol adjusting that Agreement signed at Brussels on 17th March 1993, as modified or supplemented from time to time. [The date of the coming into force of this paragraph.]

    • EEA state”, in relation to any time, means—

      (a)

      a state which at that time is a member State; or

      (b)

      any other state which at that time is a party to the EEA agreement. [The date of the coming into force of this paragraph.]]

    • [F18Enactment” does not include an enactment comprised in, or in an instrument made under, an Act of the Scottish Parliament.]

    • England” means, subject to any alteration of boundaries under Part IV of the M8Local Government Act 1972, the area consisting of the counties established by section 1 of that Act, Greater London and the Isles of Scilly. [1st April 1974].

    • Financial year” means, in relation to matters relating to the Consolidated Fund, the National Loans Fund, or moneys provided by Parliament, or to the Exchequer or to central taxes or finance, the twelve months ending with 31st March. [1889]

    • Governor-General” includes any person who for the time being has the powers of the Governor-General, and “Governor”, in relation to any British possession, includes the officer for the time being administering the government of that possession. [1889]

    • [F19Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs” has the meaning given by section 4 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.]

    • High Court” means—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in England;

      (b)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

    • [F20The Immigration Acts” has the meaning given by [F21section 61 of the UK Borders Act 2007].]

    • The Income Tax Acts” means all enactments relating to income tax, including any provisions of the Corporation Tax Acts which relate to income tax.

    • Land” includes building and other structures, land covered with water, and any estate, interest, easement, servitude or right in or over land. [1st January 1979].

    • Lands Clauses Acts” means—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, the M9Lands Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 and the M10Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts Amendment Act 1860, and any Acts for the time being in force amending those Acts; [1889]

      (b)

      in relation to Scotland, the M11Lands Clauses Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1845 and the M12Lands Clauses Consolidation Acts Amendment Act 1860, and any Acts for the time being in force amending those Acts; [1889]

      (c)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, the enactments defined as such by section 46(1) of the M13Interpretation Act Northern Ireland) 1954. [1889]

    • Local land charges register”, in relation to England and Wales, means a register kept pursuant to section 3 of the M14Local Land Charges Act 1975, and “the appropriate local land charges register” has the meaning assigned by section 4 of that Act.

    • [F22Local policing body” has the meaning given by section 101(1) of the Police Act 1996.]

    • London borough” means a borough described in Schedule 1 to the M15London Government Act 1963, “inner London borough” means one of the boroughs so described and numbered from 1 to 12 and “outer London borough” means one of the boroughs so described and numbered from 13 to 32, subject (in each case) to any alterations made under Part IV of the M16Local Government Act 1972 [F23, Part 2 of the Local Government Act 1992 or Part 1 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007].

    • Lord Chancellor” means the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

    • Magistrates’ court” has the meaning assigned to it—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, by [F24section 148 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980];

      (b)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, by [F25Article 2(2) of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981].

    • Month” means calendar month. [1850]

    • National Debt Commissioners” means the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt.

    • Northern Ireland legislation” has the meaning assigned by section 24(5) of this Act. [1st January 1979]

    • Oath” and “affidavit” include affirmation and declaration, and “swear” includes affirm and declare.

    • [F26Officer of a provider of probation services” in relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 9(1) of the Offender Management Act 2007;” and]

    • [F27Officer of Revenue and Customs” has the meaning given by section 2(1) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.]

    • Ordnance Map” means a map made under powers conferred by the M17Ordnance Survey Act 1841 or the M18Boundary Survey (Ireland) Act 1854.

    • Parliamentary Election” means the election of a Member to serve in Parliament for a constituency. [1889]

    • [F28PAYE income” has the meaning given by section 683 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.

    • PAYE regulations” means regulations under section 684 of that Act.]

    • Person” includes a body of persons corporate or unincorporate. [1889]

    • [F29Police and crime commissioner” means a police and crime commissioner established under section 1 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.]

    • Police areaF30. . . and other expressions relating to the police have the meaning or effect described—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, by [F31section 101(1) of the Police Act 1996];

      (b)

      F32. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    • F33. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    • [F34Police Service of Northern Ireland” and “Police Service of Northern Ireland Reserve” have the same meaning as in the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000;]

    • The Privy Council” means the Lords and others of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

    • [F35Provider of probation services”, in relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 3(6) of the Offender Management Act 2007;”.]

    • [F36Registered” in relation to nurses and midwives, means registered in the register maintained under article 5 of the [F37Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001] by virtue of qualifications in nursing or midwifery, as the case may be.]

    • [F38Registered medical practitioner” means a fully registered person within the meaning of the Medical Act 1983 who holds a licence to practise under that Act.]

    • [F39“Registered provider of social housing” and “private registered provider of social housing” have the meanings given by section 80 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (and “non-profit” and “profit-making” in connection with a registered provider are to be read in accordance with section 115 of that Act).]

    • Rules of Court” in relation to any court means rules made by the authority having power to make rules or orders regulating the practice and procedure of that court, and in Scotland includes Acts of Adjournal and Acts of Sederunt; and the power of the authority to make rules of court (as above defined) includes power to make such rules for the purpose of any Act which directs or authorises anything to be done by rules of court. [1889]

    • Secretary of State” means one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State.

    • [F40Senior Courts” means the Senior Courts of England and Wales.]

    • [F41Sent for trial” means, in relation to England and Wales, sent by a magistrates' court to the Crown Court for trial pursuant tosection 51 or 51A of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.]

    • [F42Sewerage undertaker”, in relation to England and Wales, shall be construed in accordance with section 6 of the Water Industry Act 1991].

    • Sheriff”, in relation to Scotland, includes sheriff principal. [1889]

    • [F43The standard scale”, with reference to a fine or penalty for an offence triable only summarily,—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, has the meaning given by section 37 of the M19Criminal Justice Act 1982;

      (b)

      in relation to Scotland, has the meaning given by section 225(1) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995];

      (c)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, has the meaning given by Article 5 of the M20Fines and Penalties (Northern Ireland) Order 1984.

    • Statutory declaration” means a declaration made by virtue of the M21Statutory Declarations Act 1835.

    • [F44Statutory maximum”, with reference to a fine or penalty on summary conviction for an offence,—

      (a)

      in relation to England and Wales, means the prescribed sum within the meaning of section 32 of the M22Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980;

      (b)

      in relation to Scotland, means the prescribed sum within the meaning of section 225(8) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995]; and

      (c)

      in relation to Northern Ireland, means the prescribed sum within the meaning of Article 4 of the Fines and Penalties (Northern Ireland) Order 1984.

    • [F45Supreme Court” means the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.]

    • [F46The Tax Acts” means the Income Tax Acts and the Corporation Tax Acts.]

    • The Treasury” means the Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury.

    • [F47Trust of land” and “trustees of land”, in relation to England and Wales, have the same meanings as in the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996.]

    • United Kingdom” means Great Britain and Northern Ireland. [12th April 1927]

    • [F48Wales” means the combined area of the counties which were created by section 20 of the M23Local Government Act 1972, as originally enacted, but subject to any alteration made under section 73 of that Act (consequential alteration of boundary following alteration of watercourse).]

    • [F49Water undertaker”, in relation to England and Wales, shall be construed in accordance with section 6 of the Water Industry Act 1991].

    • Writing” includes typing, printing, lithography, photography and other modes of representing or reproducing words in a visible form, and expressions referring to writing are construed accordingly.

Annotations: Help about Annotation
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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Amendments (Textual)

F1In Sch. 1 definition of "Act" inserted (1.7.1999) by 1998 c. 46, s. 125, Sch. 8 para. 16(3) (with s. 126(3)-(11)); S.I. 1998/3178, art. 2

F2Sch. 1: definition of "British overseas territory" inserted (26.2.2002) by 2002 c. 8, s. 1(3)

F5Sch. 1: definition of "Charity Commission" substituted (14.3.2012) by Charities Act 2011 (c. 25), ss. 354, 355, Sch. 7 para. 35 (with s. 20(2), Sch. 8)

F6In Sch. 1 definition of "civil partnership" inserted (5.12.2005) by Civil Partnership Act 2004 (c. 33), ss. 261(1), 263(10), Sch. 27 para. 59; S.I. 2005/3175, art. 2(2)

F7Sch. 1: words repealed (18.6.2012 for specified purposes, 5.11.2012 for specified purposes, 28.5.2013 for specified purposes) by Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c. 44), ss. 41, 332, 336(3)(4), Sch. 3 para. 49(a), Sch. 37 Pt. 4; S.I. 2012/1320, art. 4(1)(c)(d)(2)(3) (with art. 5); S.I. 2012/2574, art. 2(c)(d)(2)(3), Sch. (with arts. 3, 4) (as amended (4.11.2012) by S.I. 2012/2761, art. 2) (with S.I. 2013/1103, art. 4); S.I. 2013/1103, art. 2(1)(c)(d)(2)(3) (with arts. 3, 4)

F10In Sch. 1 in paragraph (b) of definition of "committed for trial" words repealed (1.4.2005) by Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 (c. 26), ss. 86, 87, Sch. 13; S.R. 2005/109, art. 2, Sch.

F16In Sch. 1 definition of "Court of Judicature" inserted (1.10.2009) by Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c. 4), ss. 59(5), 148(1), Sch. 11 para. 24(b); S.I. 2009/1604, art. 2

F17In Sch.1 definitions of "EEA agreement" and "EEA state" inserted (8.1.2007) by Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 (c. 51), ss. 26(1), 33

F18In Sch. 1 definition of "enactment" inserted (1.7.1999) by 1998 c. 46, s. 125, Sch. 8 para. 16(3) (with s. 126(3)-(11)); S.I. 1998/3178, art. 2

F19In Sch. 1 definition of "Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs" inserted (7.4.2005 at 5.45 p.m.) by Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (c. 11), ss. 4(3), 53; S.I. 2005/1126, art. 2

F20In Sch. 1 definition of "the immigration acts" inserted (30.3.2006) by Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (c. 13), s. 64(4)

F21Sch. 1: words in definition of "The Immigration Acts" substituted (30.10.2007) by UK Borders Act 2007 (c. 30), ss. 59(2), 61(4)

F23Sch. 1: words in definition of "London borough" substituted (1.11.2007 with application as mentioned in art. 1(1) of the commencing S.I.) by Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (c. 28), ss. 22, 245, Sch. 1 para. 14; S.I. 2007/3136, art. 2 (subject to art. 3)

F26Sch. 1: definition of "Officer of a provider of probation services" inserted (1.4.2008) by Offender Management Act 2007 (c. 21), ss. 39, 41(1), Sch. 3 para. 2; S.I. 2008/504, art. 3(k)(l)

F27In Sch. 1 definition of "Officer of Revenue and Customs" inserted (7.4.2005 at 5.45 p.m.) by Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (c. 11), ss. 2(7), 53; S.I. 2005/1126, art. 2

F28In Sch. 1 definitions of "PAYE income" and "PAYE regulations" inserted (6.4.2003 with effect as mentioned in s. 723(1)(a)(b) of amending Act) by Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 (c. 1), ss. 722, 723, Sch. 6 Pt. 2 para. 148 (subject to Sch. 7)

F31In Sch. 1 in definition of "police area" words substituted (22.8.1996) by 1996 c. 16, ss. 103, 104(1), Sch. 7 Pt. II para. 32

F34Sch. 1: definitions of "Police Service of Northern Ireland" and "Police Service of Northern Ireland Reserve" inserted (4.11.2001) by 2000 c. 32, s. 74, Sch. 6, para. 5; S.R. 2001/396, art. 2, Sch.

F35Sch. 1: definition of "Provider of probation services" inserted (1.4.2008) by Offender Management Act 2007 (c. 21), ss. 39, 41(1), Sch. 3 para. 2; S.I. 2008/504, art. 3(k)(l)

F36Sch. 1: definition of "registered" substituted by S.I. 2002/253, art. 54, Sch. 5 para. 7 (the amendment coming into force in accordance with art. 1(2)(3) of the amending S.I.)

F38Sch. 1: definition of "registered medical practitioner" substituted by S.I. 2002/3135, art. 16(1), Sch. 1 para. 10 (with transitional provisions in Sch. 2) (the amendment coming into force in accordance with art. 1(2)(3) of the amending S.I.)

F39Sch. 1: definition of "registered provider of social housing" inserted (1.4.2010) by Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (c. 17), ss. 277, 325(1), Sch. 9 para. 5; S.I. 2010/862, arts. 1(2), 2 (subject to Sch.); and definition of "registered provider of social housing" and "private registered provider of social housing" immediately substituted (1.4.2010) for that definition by The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Registration of Local Authorities) Order 2010 (S.I. 2010/844), arts. 1(2), 6, Sch. 2 para. 1

F40In Sch. 1 definition of "Senior Courts" inserted (1.10.2009) by Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c. 4), ss. 59(5), 148(1), Sch. 11 para. 24(b); S.I. 2009/1604, art. 2

F41In Sch. 1 definition of "sent for trial" inserted (9.5.2005 for specified purposes, 18.6.2012 for specified purposes, 5.11.2012 for specified purposes, 28.5.2013 for specified purposes) by Criminal Justice Act 2003 (c. 44), ss. 41, 336(3), Sch. 3 Pt. 2 para. 49(b); S.I. 2005/1267, art. 2, Sch. Pt. 1 para. 1(1)(h); S.I. 2012/1320, art. 4(1)(c)(2)(3) (with art. 5) (see S.I. 2012/2574, art. 4(2) and S.I. 2013/1103, art. 4); S.I. 2012/2574, art. 2(c)(2)(3), Sch. (with arts. 3, 4) (as amended (4.11.2012) by S.I. 2012/2761, art. 2) (with S.I. 2013/1103, art. 4); S.I. 2013/1103, art. 2(1)(c)(2)(3) (with arts. 3, 4)

F45In Sch. 1 definition of "Supreme Court" substituted (1.10.2009) by Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c. 4), ss. 59(5), 148(1), Sch. 11 para. 24(a); S.I. 2009/1604, art. 2

F47In Sch. 1 definitions of "trust of land" and "trustees of land" inserted (E.W.) (1.1.1997) by 1996 c. 47, s. 25(1), Sch. 3 para. 16 (with ss. 24(2), 25(4)(5)); S.I. 1996/2974, art. 2

F48Definition of "Wales" in Sch. 1 substituted (3.4.1995) by 1994 c. 19, s. 1(3), Sch. 2 para. 9 (with ss. 54(5)(7), 55(5), Sch. 17 para. 22(1), 23(2)); S.I. 1995/852, art. 3, Sch. 1

Marginal Citations

M21947 C.A.M. No. 2.

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