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

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

Finding Legislation

Traditionally printed sources could be used to identify and find legislation.

Today the most straightforward way to find and access legislation is using online commercial or publicly accessible database services

Video: Finding legislation | How to find legislation online | How to find legislation in the Library

Video: Finding legislation

How to find legislation online

How to find Legislation on Westlaw by title and provision number

How to find Legislation on Westlaw UK by title and provision number

e.g. Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 s 47 or Beer Regulations 1993, SI 1993/1228

You can search by the title of an act or statutory instrument under the 'Primary & Secondary Legislation' tab (default).

Enter the title and year in the ‘Title’ box.

You can also search for SIs by year and number (e.g. 2006/1096) using the 'Title' box.

To specify a particular provision (e.g. section), select the provision type from the drop-down menu and enter the number in the ‘Provision Number’ box. (To search for terms occurring in a piece of legislation enter these in the ‘Free Text’ box.)

Select ‘Search’ to display results.

Search Results - Westlaw Legislation

 Westlaw UK Legislation - Search Results

The results list for a search by title displays the title(s) of legislation together.  (Results for a search which included a free text term or provision number may display direct links to individual provisions.) To view legislation select the title (e.g. Children (Scotland) Act 1995 c.36).

The next screen displays the 'Arrangement of Act' (or SI), this lists the provisions of the legislation. The left column contains links to the ‘Act Details’ (or 'SI Details'), Primary References' and 'Commentary References’, which provide information about amendments, commencement and subordinate legislation and supplementary information.

After following a link to an individual provision, the right frame displays the provision and in the left frame are additional links to ‘Provision Details’ (including a 'Table of Amendments', and information about 'Commencement', territorial 'Extent'), 'Primary References' (details of any cases or legislation citing the provision) and 'Commentary References' (Books or Journal Articles on Westlaw, which cite the provision).

Legislation retrieved is the revised version, for historic versions use the ‘Advanced Search’. (You can also see previous versions and prospective versions by selecting these (e.g. Version 5) to the right of the provision's text.)

To view an entire Act select the PDF icon from the bar to the right of the ‘Arrangement of Act’ or individual provision screen.

How to find Legislation on Lexis+ UK Legal Research by title and provision number

e.g. Companies Act 2006 or Horse Passports Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/1611)


After logging into Lexis+ you are at the home page. You can search for legislation here. However it is often more useful to use the ‘legislation’ search if specifically looking for an act or statutory instrument.

Below the search box under ‘Content’, select ‘Legislation’. You are now on the legislation search page. To see more search options, select ‘Advanced Search’.

Tip: Use connectors to link your terms. For help using connectors, follow the ‘Tips’ link.


On the legislation search screen, select the ‘Acts’ or 'Statutory Instruments' links under the 'Content Type' heading . Then select  the category (e.g. 'Scottish Parliament Acts' or 'UK Parliament Acts'. Then navigate through the alphabetical list of acts or SIs using +/-. Select an individual provision to view it.

Search Results - Lexis+ UK Legal Research Legislation

The results list displays records matching your query. Use the 'Table of Contents' to navigate through the act and select individual provisions to view.

How to find legislation on

For help with using refer to the FAQ page:

Online sources of legislation

How to find legislation in the Library

How to find an act using printed sources

In the official series of Public General Acts and Acts of the Scottish Parliament and in Current Law Statutes, acts are arranged in chronological order by year and chapter.

Look up the relevant volume by year and the act by chapter or asp. (SIs and SSIs are arranged by year and SI / SSI number.)

To look it up in the official series of Public General Acts and Acts of the Scottish Parliament or in Current Law Statutes you will first have to find the year and chapter number.

Look up the title in an alphabetical table of statutes in for example:

N.B. If you have the year you can look up the alphabetical index for that year’s volumes in Public General Acts or Current Law Statutes.

Refer to a textbook or encyclopaedia on the area of law (tables of legislation are usually at the front).

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