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Legal History of Australia and the United Kingdom


Tracing UK Acts of Parliament

A useful factsheet on tracing UK Acts of Parliament has been produced by the House of Commons Information Office: 

Tracing an Act of Parliament


Regnal years

Prior to 1963, Acts of Parliament were numbered using the year of the sovereign’s reign in which the Act was passed, a system known as regnal years. Under the regnal year system, an Act passed early in a parliamentary session has a citation such as 5 Edw. 7, c. 9, for the ninth chapter in the session that commenced in the fifth year of the reign of King Edward 7th. It was common for a session to extend into a second regnal year, giving rise to a citation such as 8 & 9 Geo. 6, c. 4.

    

King Jon signs the Magna Carta (Source: Wikipedia)

 

 


UK legislation databases

 

Other databases that have versions of historical statutes and regulations include the following:


UK historical legislation

Ancient laws (pre-1200s)

Several compilations of pre-1200 legislation exist and many can be found through the library catalogue:

 

Laws from 1235 onwards

Statutes of the Realm is the most authoritative sources for older UK legislation.

 

Hansard

Hansard is the record of parliamentary debates.


Indexes of UK legislation

Chronological Table of the Statutes

Note: for more information on the definitions of local, private and personal acts, see the introduction to each table

 

 

The House of Commons Journal and the House of Lords Journal

The House of Commons Journal is the corrected, archive edition of Votes and Proceedings, the formal record of House of Commons business for a given day.

The House of Lords Journal is the corrected, archive edition of Minutes of Proceedings, the formal record of House of Lords business for a given day.

 

Raithby's Index


Australian historical legislation

Historical acts, bills and hansard for the Commonwealth and the States can be accessed through the following sources:

Commonwealth

  • Acts of Parliament 1901 - current (AustLII, Federal Register of Legislation, hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Bills 1948 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Commonwealth Parliamentary Hansard from federation in 1901 is accessible through the Parliament of Australia website. The Library also holds Hansard in hard copy from 1980 (catalogue record).

 

 

New South Wales

  • Acts of Parliament 1824 - 1900 (AustLII), 1838 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Hansard (Legislative Council) 1824 - current (NSW Parliament), 1901 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Hansard (Legislative Assembly) 1973 - current (NSW Parliament), 1901 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Comprehensive index to all parliamentary documents online (NSW Parliament)
  • Government Gazette 1967 - 1992 (hard copy in the Law Library)

 

Queensland

  • Acts of Parliament 1860 - 1900 (AustLII)
  • Acts of Parliament 1922 - current (in the Law Library)

 

South Australia

  • Acts of Parliament 1837 - 1900 (AustLII), 1848 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Acts of Parliament 1848 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Hansard 1957 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)

 

 

Tasmania

  • Acts of Parliament 1826 - 1900 (AustLII), 1899 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Hansard 1992 - current (Parliament of Tasmania website)

 

Victoria

  • Acts of Parliament 1851 - 1900 (AustLII), 1853 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)
  • Bills 1932 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)

 

Western Australia

  • Acts of Parliament 1832 - 1900 (AustLII), 1832 - current (WA government website), 1891 - current (hard copy in the Law Library)

 

Other resources