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UK Legisltation: Key Databases

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Types of UK Legislation

UK legislation can be divided into two main types:

Primary Legislation - Primary Legislation in the UK is known as 'Acts of Parliament' or 'Statutes' and is made by the legislative branch of government.

Secondary legislation - Secondary Legislation is also called subordinate or delegated legislation and is law made by an executive authority under powers given to them by primary legislation in order to implement and administer the requirements of the acts. Secondary legislation usually takes form of a statutory instrument.

Acts of Parliament

The officially published series of UK Statutes is called Public General Acts and much legislation can also be found on the web. The government department the Office for Public Sector Information publishes UK legislation on the web and the British and Irish Legal Information Institute also provides legislation on the web.

The subsequent tabs distinguish between consolidated legislation and the text of acts as they were published (original texts). This is because overtime an original Act can be altered as parts or sections are repealed or amended by later Acts.  Consolidated legislation is thus the complete revised text and includes all amendments and repeals.

Is it in Force?

An annual supplement to Halsbury's Statutes called Is it in force? enables you to establish whether an act (or section of an act) has come into force. Is it in force? is shelved at the end of Halsbury's Statutes at KD 135.H3. It covers all acts of general application in England and Wales (and all General Synod measures) passed in the last 25 years. It is also available online on Lexis Library.

Westlaw Overview

Click on Legislation link at the top, choose the act you wish to look at by browsing by year or title, click on 'Overview Document' on the left-hand side of the screen.

This document provides a summary of important information about the whole Act or SI detailing: All Amendments pending (i.e. those amendments not yet incorporated into the full text); All Commencement information pertaining to an Act/SI (except pre-1991 commencement information for Acts); All Amendments made to the full text (except amendments to pre-1991 amendments to Acts); All SIs enabled under authority of an Act; Any EU Law implemented by an Act or SI.

If you wish to check a particular provision of an act, click on Legislation, search for the act and provision you require, click on the provision to see the full text and under 'Legislation Analysis' on the left-hand side of the screen, choose 'Current Law in Force'.

Statutory Instruments

To find a particular SI in the official series you need to know the year and sequential number i.e. SI 2006/236. If you do not know the number you can use a subject based guide, such as Halsbury's Statutory Instruments, or consult an A to Z list, or search by topic and keywords on Lexis or Westlaw.

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