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Law: Finding UK Legislation

How to find law reports, journal articles and other sources of legal information

Legislation Currently in Force

Use the 'Legislation' search in either Westlaw UK or the Lexis Library to find current, updated versions of UK Acts. Search by title of the Act, including year, e.g. 'Dangerous Dogs Act 1991'.

The in force status of statutory instruments is also noted in both databases.

The legislation.gov.uk is an official site offering free public access to UK legislation. Check alerts for revising legislation to ensure that legislation is read as currently in force.

Historic Versions of Legislation

The legislation.gov.uk site provides access to original versions of all UK Acts from 1988 onwards. Some earlier Acts are also available, but coverage for the 19th Century and early to mid 20th Century is limited. Statutory instruments are available from 1987 onwards, with additional limited coverage for 1948-1986.

The Westlaw UK Advanced Search includes the ability to reconstruct 'point in time' versions of Acts dating from 1991 onwards.

Print versions of UK Public General Acts can be found of Floor 2 of the McClay Library for 1801 onwards at KE50.

Citing UK Statute Law

Acts are cited using the short title and year of the Act (no italics), e.g.

Human Rights Act 1998.

Sections and subsections of Acts are referenced using 's', e.g.

Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b).
Criminal Attempts Act 1981, ss 1(1) and 4(3).

Acts can referred to in text without footnotes, e.g.

… by virtue of section 11(1A) of the Limitation Act 1980 …

Statutory Instruments are cited using the name, year and SI number, e.g. 

Oil and Gas Authority (Levy) Regulations 2015, SI 2015/1661.

Sources for Older Statutes

The volumes of the Statutes of the Realm published in the early 19th Century are available from the HeinOnline English Reports pages and cover the period 1235-1715.

The volumes of the Statutes of the Realm covering 1628 to 1701 are also available from British History Online.

Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum (1642-1660) are available online from British History Online and in print in the McClay Library at KE30 A2

The print volumes of the Statutes at Large covering the period 1310-1800  can be found on the 2nd floor of the McClay Library at KE30.S8.

Bound volumes of older statutes are organised by number (chapter number) using regnal years - the relevant year of the monarchs reign. As a result, when citing older statutes, it is helpful to give the regnal year and chapter number, e.g.

Crown Debts Act 1801 (41 Geo 3 c 90)

This is of great benefit to anyone using the bound volumes to locate an Act.