LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)


LGST 551
Introduction to Legislative Drafting (OCW)

Study Materials

Module 1 - The Basics: Preview

Module Preview

This Module is designed to provide essential background material. The Modules that follow are concerned in particular aspects of how to draft effective legislation. But in this one we look in broader terms at the nature of the task, the typical procedures connected with it and the responsibilities of legislative counsel. We can understand better what is expected of them if first we have an understanding of what is involved and how their functions came to take the form they do.

This Module should be studied before beginning to work on drafting skills. It contains rather more descriptive material than most of the subsequent Modules. It gives an account of what is entailed in legislative drafting in countries with legislative systems based on the parliamentary model in order to provide a context for using these Materials. It also contains guidelines about how to proceed when drafting legislation and the general approach that you may wish to develop.

This Module also gives a basic introduction to relevant aspects of the English language, in particular important conventions that lead to sound grammatical writing. To develop your ability to write precisely and unambiguously, you need to have some understanding of accepted grammatical forms. If we are to explain why some drafting practices are to be preferred to others, we need sometimes to use technical terms to refer to parts of speech and the way that sentences are structured.

Objectives of this Module

By the end of this Module, you should be able to do the following:

  • describe the nature of legislative drafting in the parliamentary tradition and how that tradition developed;
  • explain the duties and responsibilities of legislative counsel;
  • present an overall picture of why legislative texts take the form they do;
  • use the correct expressions to describe the main features of English grammar.

Studying this Module

This Module has four sections:

  1. What is legislative drafting all about?
  2. What is legislation?
  3. Why do we draft as we do?
  4. What do we need to know about grammar?

This Module lays the foundation for learning how to draft legislative sentences, which is dealt with in Module 2.

Some of the material in this Module will already be familiar to you from your earlier legal studies and professional work. Those of you who have acquired some experience of legislative drafting will find rather more with which you are already conversant. However, this is an opportunity to confirm your knowledge and understanding. Much that follows in later Modules assumes that you are thoroughly comfortable with what is covered in this Module.

This Module has fewer activities and exercises than most of the others. It is more concerned with providing information and broad guidelines on the main tasks of legislative drafting in preparation for subsequent study. You may be able to study this Module at a reasonable pace, but you should review more than once matters that are new to you. You may particularly find that necessary for parts of Section 3.

For those who find that grammar as discussed in Section 4 is a particular source of concern, perhaps because you have not previously studied matters covered there, it is recommend that you spend more time on the topic. In the Bibliography (which you will find in the Resource Materials) there are references to books on English grammar and usage that you may find helpful.

Continue to the first section of Module 1.

Last modified: Friday, 3 October 2014, 3:40 PM MDT