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Legislative Drafting 

Materials available as OER

The Legislative Drafting materials were revised through a collaborative effort between COL and Athabasca University by John Mark Keyes and Peter Pagano. Copyright of which is jointly held by COL and the Commonwealth Secretariat (COMSEC).

The student version of materials is now available as open education resources (OER) hence it’s both accessible and reusable (see right side-bar to download). The instructor version of the materials has also been revised and is available to be licensed for use by partner institutions.

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Introduction

Table of Contents

MODULE 1:  THE BASICS

Section 1:  What is legislative drafting all about?

  1. Drafting and legislative Counsel
  2. Legislative expression

Section 2:  What is legislation?

  1. Types of legislation
  2. Classification of primary legislation (Bills and Acts)
  3. Structure and format Bills and Acts
  4. Conventional structure of Bills and Acts

Section 3:  Why do we draft as we do in parliamentary systems?

  1. Historical development of legislative drafting
  2. Theoretical foundations of this form of drafting
  3. Principle characteristics of this form of drafting
  4. Drafting objectives

Section 4:  What do we need to know about grammar?

  1. Why is grammar important for drafting?
  2. What grammatical terms do we need to know?
  3. What common grammatical mistakes should we watch for?

MODULE 2:  GETTING ORGANISED

Section 1:  How should we structure a legislative text?

  1. General considerations
  2. Drafting sections
  3. Drafting sentences in sections
  4. Paragraphing
  5. Numbering
  6. Ordering and linking sentences in a section
  7. Linking sections
  8. Incorporation by reference
  9. Grouping Sections

Section 2:  How should we organise a legislative text?

  1. General considerations
  2. Preparing an outline
  3. Factors influencing an outline for a Bill

MODULE 3:  WRITING LEGISLATIVE SENTENCES

Section 1:  What are the basics of writing legislative sentences?

  1. Starting to write
  2. Basic components of legislative sentences
  3. Types of legislative sentences

Section 2:  How do we put together the components of legislative sentences?

  1. Principal subject
  2. Principal predicate
  3. Predicate modifiers

Section 3:  How do we punctuate and capitalise legislation?

  1. Punctuation
  2. Capital letters

Section 4:  What can go wrong in legislative sentences?

  1. Subjects
  2. Verbs
  3. Modifiers

Section 5:  How can we develop good legislative style?

  1. General considerations
  2. Developing good legislative style
  3. Gender-neutral drafting
  4. Some additional matters of style

MODULE 4: WORKING WITHIN LIMITS

Section 1:  How do we work with interpretive approaches and rules?

  1. General considerations
  2. Judicial approaches to interpretation
  3. Interpretive assumptions and presumptions
  4. Aids to interpretation
  5. Conclusion

Section 2:  How do we work with Interpretation Acts?

  1. Importance of Interpretation Acts
  2. Application of Interpretation Acts
  3. Using Interpretation Acts to facilitate drafting

Section 3:  How do we work with the Constitution?

  1. The Constitution and the legislative counsel
  2. Particular constitutional constraints

Section 4:  How do we work with fundamental rights and freedoms?

  1. Drafting under a Bill of Rights
  2. International standards

MODULE 5: DRAFTING PRELIMINARY AND FINAL PROVISIONS

Section 1:  What are preliminary and final provisions and what other explanatory material may be included?

  1. Preliminary and Final Provisions
  2. Explanatory Material

Section 2:  How do we draft titles, preambles and words of enactment?

  1. Long titles of Bills
  2. Preambles
  3. Words of enactment
  4. Short titles

Section 3:  How do we draft commencement and duration provisions? 

  1. Commencement provisions
  2. Expiry provisions

Section 4:  How do we draft interpretation provisions?

  1. General considerations
  2. Definitions generally
  3. Labelling definitions
  4. Stipulating definitions
  5. Syntax of definitions
  6. Interpretative rules
  7. Hints and checks

Section 5:  When and how do we draft purpose clauses?

  1. What is a purpose clause?
  2. Why use a purpose clause?
  3. Why don't legislative counsel use purpose clauses more often?
  4. When is a purpose clause useful?
  5. How should a purpose clause be drafted?

Section 6:  When and how do we draft application provisions?

  1. Application provisions generally
  2. Application to things in the past
  3. Provisions binding the state
  4. Extra-territorial application

Section 7:  When and how do we draft schedules?

MODULE 6:  DRAFTING AMENDING PROVISIONS

Section 1:  What are amending provisions and how are they arranged?

Section 2:  How should we repeal and amend legislation?

  1. General considerations
  2. Deciding what to repeal or amend
  3. Drafting repeal provisions
  4. Drafting amendments
  5. Concluding questions

Section 3:  When and how do we draft saving and other transitional provisions?

  1. General considerations
  2. Legal effects of repeals
  3. Content of saving and other transitional provisions
  4. Drafting saving and other transitional provisions

MODULE 7: DRAFTING OTHER COMMON PROVISIONS

Section 1:  How do we draft compliance provisions?

  1. General considerations
  2. Determining what penal provisions are required
  3. Drafting penal provisions

Section 2:  How do we delegate powers to legislate?

  1. General Considerations
  2. General Approaches to Drafting Subsidiary Legislative Powers
  3. Particular Questions

Section 3:  How do we draft subsidiary legislation?

  1. General Considerations
  2. Drafting Approach
  3. Drafting Details
  4. Drafting Executive Instruments

MODULE 8: LAW-MAKING PROCESSES AND WORKING WITH CLIENTS

Section 1:  What are the processes for making laws and our role as legislative counsel?

  1. General considerations
  2. Stages in the preparation of legislation
  3. Enacting the legislative text
  4. Subsidiary legislation

Section 2:  How do we work with drafting instructions?

  1. Getting drafting instructions
  2. Analysing drafting instructions

 

Last updated: July 2014