Acts of Parliament

All Acts of Parliament have some key features:

  • First the Act has a short title or straightforwardly its name.  In criminal law we’re used to looking at Acts like the Criminal Justice Act and the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996.  These are both examples of short titles for legislation.
  • The Act will also have a year along with a chapter.  The year is obviously the year that the Act was drafted and the chapter number is the number of Act within a given sequence so for example 1998 Chapter 42 means the 42nd Act in the 1998 Parliamentary year.
  • Then the Act will have a long title which explains its subject matter in more detail.  It is worth having a look at a couple of pieces of legislation to read the long title and to consider the roles that they play.  It will have a short enacting formula stating that it has gone through all the constitutional stages in order to become law.  It will then be divided into sections stating the key content and subject matter of the Act.  The Act may also have Schedules.  Schedules are used to condense down extensive important information into a section of the Act which are not contained in actual provisions.  We will have a look at some examples.  There are lots of different kinds of Acts of Parliament.  There are Public Bills, Government bills, Private Members Bills, etc.  In our view knowing the distinction between these pieces of law go beyond the remit of the SQE.