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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 Library by title and provision number

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


You can search for an Act or SI by title. Enter the title in the  ‘Title’ field and the year in the ‘Year’ field. If appropriate, tick the ‘Act’ or ‘SI’ box to limit your search to either category.

To search using other terms, enter these in the ‘Search terms’ box.

You can select or enter additional relevant information in other search fields and limit your search to 'Current Version' or 'Historical Version'  by checking the relevant boxes.

The ‘Sources’ box default setting is ‘All Subscribed Legislation Sources’. Specify other sources from the drop-down menu or by selecting ‘More Sources’. Select ‘Search’ to display results.

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


On the legislation ‘Search’ screen, select the ‘Browse’ link in the left-hand column . Navigate using +/-. Select an individual provision to view it.

Search Results - Lexis Library Legislation

The results list displays records matching your query. Select the title to view full-text, then use the arrows to move between sections  or select the PDF link (if available) to view the entire piece of legislation .

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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