LGST 553
Legislative Structure, Style and Limits (OCW)


LGST 553
Legislative Structure, Style and Limits (OCW)

Study Materials

Module 1: Section 1

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How should we structure a legislative text?

This Section deals with the ways in which legislative sentences are structured and linked in a legislative text to make a coherent set of provisions. Legislative counsel need to be able to structure and link both sentences within a single section and sections within a single legislative text.

This Section also deals with the ways in which legislative texts may be formally divided and how provisions in other legislation may be linked or incorporated to provide consistency in the general body of law.

Section Objectives

By the end of this Section, you should be able:

  • to order and link legislative sentences to make a logical section;
  • to make effective use of paragraphing in setting out components of a legislative sentence;
  • to order and link legislative sentences into a rational structure in a legislative text;
  • to determine when provisions in other legislation should be linked with a legislative text or incorporated into it;
  • to decide when a legislative text needs to be formally divided, and how those parts should be organised.

Essential Questions

This Section is divided into 9 subsections organised in terms of a series of questions:

  1. General Considerations
    • Why is structuring important?
    • What are the basic characteristics of structuring?
    • What guidelines should we follow in structuring legislation?
    • How should we approach individual sections?
    • How can we tell which matters should be covered by the same section?
    • How long should a section be?
    • How should the section note be selected?
  3. Drafting Sentences in Sections
    • How long should a sentence in a section be?
    • What can be done to keep sentences as short as possible?
  4. Paragraphing
    • How can paragraphing help?
    • When might paragraphing be used?
    • What factors should be borne in mind when drafting paragraphs?
    • What can go wrong with paragraphs?
    • How can we find flaws in paragraphs?
  5. Numbering
    • What numbering systems do we use to identify legislative provisions?
    • How should we number new provisions inserted into existing ones?
  6. Arranging and Linking Sentences in a Section
    • How should sentences in a section be arranged ?
    • When should sentences in a section be linked?
    • How should sentences in a section be linked?
    • Should we use a proviso as a linking device?
    • What alternatives to the proviso should be used?
    • Can we dispense with linking words between sentences?
  7. Linking Sections
    • What is different about linking sections?
    • How can sections be linked?
    • How should cross-references be drafted?
  8. Incorporation by Reference
    • When can we incorporate provisions from one part of a text to another?
    • When can we incorporate provisions from other legislation?
    • Can provisions be incorporated from the legislation of another jurisdiction?
  9. Grouping Sections
    • When should we have formal groupings of sections?
    • What groupings are conventionally used?
    • When might groupings be of particular value?
    • When should the decision be made about grouping sections?
    • What should be borne in mind in grouping sections?
    • How should group headings be expressed?

Studying this Section

You will see from the long list of questions that there is much to cover in this Section. You may find that some of its parts call for at least a full study session of their own. You may also find that the Exercises require more time, as necessarily the text with which we are now dealing is longer. The Section deals with many matters that are also mentioned elsewhere in these Materials, for example, paragraphing as a technique for organising detailed or elaborate provisions into an easily accessible form. This Section explores at greater length their use and flaws that you must avoid.

In studying this Section you may find it helpful to draw up your own Checklist of things to do or not to do when structuring legislation. This should help to confirm what you are learning, but it also becomes a handy reminder and reference point for the future. Once the routines become standard practice for you, you can dispense with the Checklist.

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