Module 1: Section 1
What is legislative drafting all about?
This Section aims to give you a general background to legislative drafting. It introduces some general themes that arise throughout the Materials, notably in relation to the responsibilities of legislative counsel.
In addition, this Section includes suggestions on how to approach the task of drafting legislation. You should try to follow them when you are doing the drafting exercises in these Materials. If you develop good working practices during your study of legislative drafting, they will stand you in good stead in your professional practice.
By the end of this Section, you should be able to do the following:
- explain what legislative drafting entails and how it is typically provided in parliamentary-based jurisdictions;
- describe the basic responsibilities of legislative counsel and how they can be fulfilled;
- determine to whom particular types of legislation should be addressed;
- list the factors that influence the way legislation is expressed, especially in contrast with everyday communication;
- decide what practical steps you can take to facilitate the task of legislative drafting.
This Section is divided into two subsections organised in terms of a series of questions:
- drafting and legislative counsel
- What is legislative drafting?
- Why is legislative drafting important?
- Who should draft legislation?
- What are the advantages of a centralised drafting office?
- What are the drawbacks of a centralised drafting office?
- How is legislative drafting viewed by users of legislation?
- Principles of “Traditional” Legislative Drafting
- What are the responsibilities of legislative counsel?
- How do we fulfil these responsibilities? (Guiding Principles for Legislative Counsel)
- legislative expression
- What is legislative drafting?
- To whom should legislation be addressed?
- What should be our aims as legislative counsel?
- Are there any constraints on the legislative counsel?
- How does legislative expression compare with other forms of communication?
- What are the differences between legislative and non-legislative commands?
- What more is needed to create legislative prohibitions?
- How should we choose the right expression?
- What work practices will facilitate drafting? (Drafting Work-practice Tips)
Studying this Section
Much of this Section, particularly Subsection 1, is descriptive and can be completed in a single and quite speedy reading. There are no Activity Boxes and just two Exercises. You should concentrate on the parts that deal with the tasks that you, as a legislative counsel, may be called upon to perform and with the factors that you should have in mind in carrying out your duties. These matters are largely set out in a form that you can make into checklists for your future reference. Take time to think about the implications of these, since they influence the way we perceive the role and the work of legislative counsel, and the professional standards expected of them or that they should set for themselves.
Subsection 2 introduces issues about the “writing” dimension of legislative drafting—particularly its communicative aspects—that are relevant throughout the Materials. Later Modules assume that you have taken the general themes on board.