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Legislation: How to find and use legislation: Citations to legislation

What is legislation? Where can you find UK and Scottish legislation? How can you check the status of legislation?
Note about Legal Citations

N.B. These are examples of citations you may see. For guidance on how to cite sources in your own work, refer to a style guide, for example:

UK Acts of Parliament - citation

Public General Acts may be cited by 'short title' or by year and chapter number:

  • short title:                                  e.g. Children (Scotland) Act 1995
  • year and chapter number:        e.g. 1995 c 36

Since 1963 the year cited is the calendar year (e.g. 1995) and the chapter number is assigned in the order in which acts gain Royal Assent in a given year, chapter 1 is the first act passed in that year, chapter 2 the second, and so on.

So the Children Scotland Act 1995 which was the thirty-sixth act to gain Royal Assent in 1995 may be cited as: 1995 c 36 (or 1995 Chapter 36)


Local Acts have their chapter number written in Roman numerals. For example, the Bell's Bridge Order Confirmation Act 1995 may be cited as: 1995 c iv


Personal Acts have their chapter number written in italics. For example, the George Donald Evans and Deborah Jane Evans (Marriage Enabling) Act 1987 may be cited as: 1987 c 2


Prior to 1963 acts were cited by regnal year, i.e. the year of a monarch’s reign (which begins on the date the monarch accedes to the throne). For example, National Galleries of Scotland Act 1906 may be cited as:

5 Edw 7 c 50 (the fiftieth act to be passed in 5th year of the reign of Edward VII)


N.B. The citation of older acts is slightly complicated by other factors. For a detailed explanation of this see Peter Clinch, Using a Law Library: a Student’s Guide to Legal Research Skills (Blackstone 2001) 47-49.

Acts of the Scottish Parliament (1999 - ) - citation

Acts of the Scottish Parliament may be cited by 'short title' or year and 'asp' number:

  • short title:                    e.g. Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005
  • year and asp number:   e.g. 2005 asp 7

The year cited is the calendar year (e.g. 2005) and the 'asp' (Act of the Scottish Parliament) number is assigned in the order in which acts gain Royal Assent in a given year, asp1 is the first act passed in that year, asp 2 the second, and so on.

Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland (Pre-1707 Scots Acts) - citation

Pre-1701 Scots Acts may be cited in the following ways:

  • short title:                                    e.g. Lawburrows Act 1429
  • year and chapter number:          e.g. 1429 c 20
  • ‘Record edition’ reference:         e.g. APS ii 19, c 20 (Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, volume 2, page 19, chapter 20)

N.B. Chapter numbering begins at the start of each session. If there was more than one session in a year this is identified by the date of the session. There are different editions of the old Scots Acts with varying chapter numbers. See Derek French How to Cite Legal Authorities (Blackstone Press 1996) 73-74.

Sections and schedules - 'pinpoint' citations

‘Section’ may be abbreviated to ‘s’ so references to a section may be cited in the form s 5 (meaning ‘section 5’). References are given in the form section – subsection – paragraph – subparagraph e.g.:

Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995, s 3(1)(c)(i)

Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995 s 3 (1) (c) (i)
Act (short title) section 3 subsection 1 paragraph (c) subparagraph (i)

‘Schedule’ may be abbreviated to ‘Sch’ (or ‘Sched’) and ‘paragraph’ to para. For, example, paragraph 4 of Schedule 1 of the Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995 may be cited as:

Requirements of Writing (Scotland) Act 1995, Sch 2, para 4

Statutory Instruments (SIs) and Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs) - citation

Statutory Instruments may be cited by title or by year and number. For example:

                                    Bingo Duty Regulations 2003 or SI 2003/2503

Scottish Statutory Instruments may be cited in the same way:

                                    Horse Passports (Scotland) Regulations 2005 or SSI 2005/223

N.B. In a given year SIs and SSIs are numbered in separate sequences it is important to know to which type the year and number relates. E.g. SSI 2005/223 is quite different to SI 2005/223 - The Copyright (Educational Establishments) Order 2005.

Online sources of legislation

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