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Law: Legislation

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Finding UK legislation from the legal databases

Chapter Numbers

All Acts of Parliament (after 1963) are given a short title, year, and chapter number

e.g. Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (c. 65)

This means that the 'Sex discrimination Act' was the 65th Act to receive royal assent in 1975.

Acts of Parliament passed before 1963 are traditionally referred to by Regnal year and chapter number.

e.g. Highways Act 7 & 8 Eliz 2 (c.25)

This act was passed in the session of Parliament that covered the 7th and 8th years of Elizabeth II's reign.

Primary Legislation


Primary legislation includes Acts of Parliament (also called Statutes). Around 50 to 70 Acts of Parliament are passed every year. They start as bills and become law after passing through both the House of Parliament and House of Lords, and receiving Royal Assent.

For more information on the process by which legislation is passed , you can read the 'Making Laws' guide from the House of Commons Information Office. You can also listen to  'How Statute Law is Made', a podcast of the lecture  given by Stephen Laws at the University of Oxford in October 2010. 

Secondary Legislation

Most secondary legislation (also called delegated legislation) is in the form of Statutory Instruments (SIs) which are rules, regulations and orders made under the authority of an Act of Parliament.

For more information on Statutory Instruments, you can read the 'Delegated legislation' guide from the House of Commons Information Office.

Finding UK and EU Legislation for free

You can find EU legislation from:



International Legislation