LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)


LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)

Study Guide

Module 2: Section 2

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What are the basics of writing legislative sentences?

Inexperienced legislative counsel are often puzzled about how to write a legislative sentence, especially as the same requirements can be provided for in more than one way. This Section aims to help you get started.

In this Section, we are only concerned with writing individual sentences. We do not consider how to prepare for the drafting of the full legislative text.

Section Objectives

The objectives of this Section are to enable you:

  • to develop an understanding of how to write a legislative sentence that that accomplishes what it is supposed to do;
  • to begin to develop your approach to writing legislative sentences.

Essential Questions

This Section is divided into three subsections organised in terms of a series of questions:

    • How should we begin the process of writing a legislative sentence?
    • Are there any guidelines to help us get started?
    • What are the basic components of a legislative sentence?
    • How should we decide on the components of a legislative sentence?
    • How do legislative counsel write particular types of sentences?
    • Are there different ways to express the same provision?

Studying this Section

This is a short Section. However, you will find it helpful first to revisit the discussion about Coode’s principles of legislative syntax in Section 1, Section 3 (Why do we draft as we do in parliamentary systems?).

Subsection 1 asks you to think about the way you usually write formal documents and how you might adapt your present writing approach to legislation.  Give careful thought to this.  Your approach to legislative writing will be easier to develop if you are building on your present practices. 

Subsections 2 and 3 lay the foundations for Section 3 and should be approached in that way.  The sentences in Subsection 3 demonstrate different kinds of legal rules. You may find it helpful to note the differences between them, and to look back at the examples when you need to write a sentence of a kind illustrated.

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