LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)

 

LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)

Study Materials

Module 1: Section 3

Where did drafting begin?

Early legislative drafting in England (from the 15th century) was largely undertaken by Judges and conveyancers. They brought to it the wordy and legalistic style they used in the deeds and court instruments of the time—a practice encouraged by payment by the length of the document. These features were accentuated from the 17th century when, in the struggles between the King and the Parliament, the judges cut down the generality of statutory language (which tended to favour the Crown) by strict construction. In response, Parliament sought the same objectives by specifying in detail and repeating at length the particular matters that would have been covered by rules drafted in broad terms.

By the 19th century, lay readers especially found the contents of most statutes unintelligible. Legislation generally suffered from poor arrangement and structure, an inconsistent and elaborate mode of expression, a dense and unhelpful format and obscure language. Blocks of unbroken text contained lengthy sentences in which many matters were compressed (for a process of separate enactment was needed for each sentence). They were also written in artificial and legalistic language.

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