Houses of Parliament

OSCOLA Basics: statutory instruments

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In the past few blog posts I’ve been looking at primary sources of legislation: acts of parliament and bills. In addition to these laws brought into force by the full Parliamentary process of debate and vote, there is also raft of secondary legislation. These are essentially laws that are made by an executive authority using powers delegated to it by Parliament. There are so many new laws proposed every year, all vying for Parliamentary time to consider and debate, that a great deal of law-making is handed down to regulatory agencies, government ministries and other bodies. In fact, several thousand pieces of new law are enacted in this way every year. In the last couple of years the numbers have been falling. To date, in 2017 there have only been 1139 SIs introduced, compared to 3485 in 2014.

Four types

The Parliament website lists four types of secondary legislation: statutory instruments, church measures, special procedure orders and hybrid instruments. The type that you’ll most likely need to cite is the statutory instrument (SI). A statutory instrument is created under the delegated authority of an Act of Parliament and is often used to develop the detail of laws. There are two types of SI; the affirmative SI requires Parliamentary approval and the negative SI can come into force without any reference back to either House.

Statutory instruments

Since 1987, all statutory instruments have been listed in full text on the website, so it’s not difficult to track down the details. The numbering system is consecutive throughout the year and quite simple. You just need the year and the SI’s serial number, which are given on the site. These are combined into a citation reference as follows: SI 2017/0000. The title and year of the statutory instrument are cited in the same style as an Act of Parliament, then the all-important comma is followed by SI to denote that it’s a statutory instrument and the year and serial number.

Here’s a couple of examples:

The Education (Recognised Awards) (Richmond The American International University in London) Order 2017, SI 2017/1185

The Diocese of Lichfield (Educational Endowments) (High Offley (St. Mary’s) Church of England First School) Order 2017, SI 2017/1170

Short Cuts

It is possible to abbreviate the long titles of statutory instruments to their commonly known short titles and use the abbreviation in subsequent citations. One final point to note is that historically instruments of delegated legislation were known as statutory rules and orders (SR & O) until the current system was introduced in 1948. For these older pieces of delegated legislation use the same formula with the abbreviation SR & O.

Houses of Parliament
Houses of Parliament