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Referencing - UK & EU Law: Statute (Act of Parliament)

How do I reference a statute (Act of Parliament)?

This guidance applies whether you found the statute in print or online.

short title | year

Footnote (if you HAVE given the short title and year in the text of your work):
You do not need to create a footnote

Footnote (if you HAVE NOT given the short title and year in the text of your work):
e.g. Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995

Bibliography:
e.g. Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995

To pinpoint, follow the citation with a comma, the relevant term or abbreviation and a number or letter. To pinpoint several sections (for example), insert a dash between the section numbers:
e.g. Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995, s 4

Term Abbreviation
part/parts pt/pts
section/sections s/ss
subsection/subsections sub-s/sub-ss
paragraph/paragraphs para/paras
subparagraph/subparagraphs subpara/subparas
schedule/schedules sch/schs

Short title

A statute may have a short title (e.g. 'Finance Act 2015') and a long title (e.g. 'An Act to grant certain duties, to alter other duties, and to amend the law relating to the National Debt and the Public Revenue, and to make further provision in connection with finance'). Use the short title in your reference.

  • Do not include 'The' at the beginning of the title
  • Use capitals for the major words
  • Do not insert a comma between the title and the year
  • Do not use popular titles, e.g. ‘Lord Campbell’s Act’.

Parts of a statute

Statutes are divided into: parts; sections; subsections; paragraphs and subparagraphs.

The main text of the statute may be supplemented by schedules, which are divided into parts, paragraphs and subparagraphs.

These divisions are referenced using either a term (e.g. section 4) or an abbreviation (e.g. s 4) as follows:

  • In a footnote, use the abbreviation
  • In the text of your work, use either the term or the abbreviation but...
  • Use the term at the beginning of a sentence
  • When referring to subsections or paragraphs, always use the abbreviation.

If citing a paragraph or subsection as part of a section, use only the abbreviation for the section.  For example, paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 15 of the Human Rights Act 1998 is referenced as follows: Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(b).

Explanatory notes to statutes

To cite explanatory notes to a statute, add 'Explanatory Notes to the...' before your reference, e.g. Explanatory Notes to the Charities Act 2006.

To pinpoint, follow the citation with a comma, then para(s) and the paragraph number(s), e.g. Explanatory Notes to the Charities Act 2006, para 15.