Home > The English Legal System > Statute Law in England

Statute Law in England

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Jun 2017 |
 
Statute Law Parliament Act Bill

Statute Law is law that is written down and codified into law. Statutes begin as bills: and there are public and private bills.

Public Acts are those that affect either the whole of the UK or some of its constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, whereas private Acts may grant limited powers to public bodies such as local authorities, or apply only to specific locations within the UK. There has been a significant increase in the number of statutes passed in law in the United Kingdom in the 20th and 21st centuries.

How a Bill Becomes Law

To begin with, a bill goes through scrutiny and is refined before the final draft is created. Then it is given its first reading, and after its second reading there is a general debate as to its contents.

Once at the ‘Committee stage’ both the House of Commons and the House of Lords may make amendments to it. Then further amendments may be made when it is considered at the report stage. A third reading allows for final changes to be made, and it is passed to the other house (the Lords if it is a Commons bill, and the Commons if it is a Lords bill), and final amendments can be made.

Once these processes have been completed, the bill receives the ‘Royal Assent’, after which it becomes law. The Royal Assent is in effect the signature of the monarch. In past times the monarch had a much more active role in passing statutory laws, although nowadays the obtaining of the Royal Assent is seen by many as merely a constitutional formality.

Although statute law codifies certain rules, it is the continuing development and fluidity of case law that enables judges to interpret statute law. However, it should be noted that judges are not bound by their predecessors, which is why case law is susceptible to change. Further, the law upon which judges comment is essentially made by ‘accidents of litigation’: in other words, if the case hadn’t been brought, the judgment would not have been made. However, it is also true that certain events can force parliament to bring changes to existing laws, such as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in response to the increasing number of huge raves being held on farm land across the country.

Statutory Instruments

Often, Acts of Parliament give ministers to make further orders, rules or regulations that are secondary to the main Acts of Parliament, without having to make amendments or to repeal full Acts of Parliament. These are known as Statutory Instruments (SI) and are just as important to the statutory legal framework as the Acts of Parliament themselves. Statutory Instruments are freely available on the internet, and often bring into force Acts of Parliament, or parts of Acts of Parliament on the date which is specified in the Statutory Instrument, known as the ‘Commencement Date.’

Researching Statute Law

Once you have found a statute, or reference to a statute, it is vital that you check that it is still in force because laws are constantly being changed, updated and repealed. There are numerous ways to do this either online or by using a law library. Lawtel has all acts of parliament from 1987 onwards, whereas Westlaw has acts of parliament from before 1987. If you want to research a statute in a paper law library, use Halisbury’s Statutes, which is a set of fifty hardback volumes, as updated by a Cumulative Supplement and Noter Up, for the most recent developments.

The Statute Law Database is also a very useful and fully searchable tool as it allows you not only to view how statutes have changed over time, but also to see amendments that are not yet in force, as well as linking associated statutory provisions together.

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[Add a Comment]
Hi Dannii, If you want to be good a law, the first lesson is you will have to research things yourself and renounce the habit of writings things to the effect of "Please can you e-mail me with more information" without publishing your e-mail address. Next, you will need a good command of the English language. I suggest you start with basic spelling and grammar. Best, James.
Jimmy - 17-Jun-17 @ 3:26 AM
i am interested on the British legal system please me with some interesting notes
BANGSO - 15-Mar-17 @ 6:47 AM
Aggi - Your Question:
It may sound trivial, but our problem concerns parking. In our residential area of narrow Victorian streets close to the town centre, with no off street parking, there is currently unrestricted parking across most of the area, with 2 short sections of resident only paid for permits. The County Council is going to introduce a permit scheme in the whole area, whereby residents will be required to buy a permit, but there will be free parking for anyone else for 4 hours between 8am and 8pm. I am waiting for the submissions to the consultation for this scheme under a FOI request, as I question the assertion in the officers' report that there is 'overwhelming support' for the scheme, which is in direct contrast to the views expressed by most residents in the area.I have made a complaint about failure to respond to e-mails, in spite of copies to senior management, including the chief executive. My complaint is against officers of the Council not councillors, as there was not a member decision on this.My question is who do I contact in order to get some advice about what we should do, as I understand the law as applied to decisions made by Local Authorities is specific and specialised?Thank you

Our Response:
If you need some back-up to get answers that aren't coming forth, your local counsellor may help to push this matter on your behalf. However, if you have made a complaint and it hasn't been addressed, then your Local Government Ombudsman will look into this, please see link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Dec-16 @ 10:46 AM
It may sound trivial, but our problem concerns parking. In our residential area of narrow Victorian streets close to the town centre, with no off street parking, there is currently unrestricted parking across most of the area, with 2 short sections of resident only paid for permits. The County Council is going to introduce a permit scheme in the whole area, whereby residents will be required to buy a permit, but there will be free parking for anyone else for 4 hours between 8am and 8pm. I am waiting for the submissions to the consultation for this scheme under a FOI request, as I question the assertion in the officers' report that there is 'overwhelming support' for the scheme, which is in direct contrast to the views expressed by most residents in the area. I have made a complaint about failure to respond to e-mails, in spite of copies to senior management, including the chief executive. My complaint is against officers of the Council not councillors, as there was not a member decision on this. My question is who do I contact in order to get some advice about what we should do, as I understand the law as applied to decisions made by Local Authorities is specific and specialised? Thank you
Aggi - 16-Dec-16 @ 11:13 AM
I was accused of sexual assault and still on bail after 8 months. During this time am I able to bring charges of my own on the "victim" and their relatives?
Indaba - 25-Sep-16 @ 11:50 PM
I have been released on bail (now 8 months) for alleged sexual assault. Am I able to lay charges of my own against the "victim" and or relatives of theirs whilst on bail?
Indaba - 25-Sep-16 @ 11:48 PM
Predators#1 - Your Question:
What is a Statutory Instrument?Please use simple word choices to explain it to me in small paragraphs.Thank you in advance! :)

Our Response:
As outlined in the article, first introduced in the 1940s statutory instruments (SIs) were used to save parliamentary time by allowing procedural changes to laws to be made without the perceived need of a full debate in a vote in the Commons.
CourtroomAdvice - 12-Sep-16 @ 12:01 PM
What is a Statutory Instrument? Please use simple word choices to explain it to me in small paragraphs. Thank you in advance! :)
Predators#1 - 11-Sep-16 @ 11:57 AM
polly - Your Question:
23 June 2016I am an ex-pat and a British citizen and have been living in various EU countries for a number of years. This means that should BREXIT occur then I will be one of those persons most directly affected by future measures. However, it would seem I do not have the right to vote on this matter.Surely this is illegal as it is a European issue and not a Birtish one and I have the right to vote in any European Pariliament election.Does anyone have any ideas on this?

Our Response:
Registered overseas voters will be able to vote in the upcoming referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union. There may not now be enough time for ballot papers to be posted out from the UK, completed and posted back again in time for your vote to be counted. You should consider voting by proxy instead, please see link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 31-May-16 @ 2:09 PM
23 June 2016 I am an ex-pat and a British citizen and have been living in various EU countries for a number of years. This means that should BREXIT occur then I will be one of those persons most directly affected by future measures. However, it would seem I do not have the right to vote on this matter. Surely this is illegal as it is a European issue and not a Birtish one and I have the right to vote in any European Pariliament election. Does anyone have any ideas on this?
polly - 31-May-16 @ 7:41 AM
Cananyone help,or give advice has I am a bit stuck, been evicted from secure home from local council who's member make claims the I made my family and Iintentionally homeless and has no duty to rehouse us. There had been many issues with property including health, overcrowded
dede - 13-Apr-16 @ 11:08 AM
HI was wondering if anyone could give an example of statute law.
Amy - 5-Oct-15 @ 6:09 PM
@Emily - you will be able to find a full definition of 'crime' in a legal dictionary. I imagine there will be plenty in your university library. K.
Karl - 9-Feb-15 @ 12:44 PM
Hi, please can you point me in the direction of finding a legal/academic definition for 'Crime' that I can quote in an assignment for university? Thanks :)
Emily - 8-Feb-15 @ 11:02 PM
@Wizard - I can only suggest you go through the appeals process if you think a decision is unfair. I have included a Gov.uk link herewhich may help.
CourtroomAdvice - 23-Jan-15 @ 10:41 AM
Can you enlighten the uk to the legality of council tax and any repercussions of none payments as I'm lead to believe that the council tax has been illegally applied and due to the actions commited fraud by deception ,false representation ect I have the main interests in the following statement made by the government wicth implies that they agree with what they are doing ie committing fraud and would it be classed as any type of crime committed by the government the statement is in regards to the public funds and states; 6.4 Non-Payment of Council Tax The decision maker will not normally refuse an application where the person has been unable to pay Council Tax because of their financial position. This is particularly true if some sort of arrangement is being, or has been, negotiated with the relevant authority. However, payment of Council Tax is a legal requirement and non-compliance is a punishable offence. Therefore, a decision maker will normally refuse an application where a person has: a. unreasonablyfailedtopay,or b. provided a false statement or statements–including failing to declare their full circumstances – to avoid paying the correct rate. 5 lines upwards state payments of council tax is a legal requirement. Please respond to this matter as many people will question this fact Thankyou from the wizard
Wizard - 22-Jan-15 @ 5:00 AM
@George - The National Archives website should be able to help you, link here.
CourtroomAdvice - 20-Jan-15 @ 2:57 PM
How and where can I get a copy of a Court Case that happened 20 years ago.
George - 19-Jan-15 @ 7:33 PM
Joy, I'm assuming from the date of your comment that your solicitor has returned from holiday, but just in case, I thought I would share a little of my knowledge with you. In the UK, 3 elements have to be present to create a legally binding contract - Offer, Unqualified acceptance, and Consideration (something of value to at least one party to the Contract). It is possible to create a legally binding conttract verbally, but it is very difficult to prove if disputed. In your case, I would say that the Unqualified acceptance of this verbal contract was not present (you agreed to purchase the items on the condition that they came as part of the house). In addition to this, the onus of proof would be on the person you were buying them from, so you are in a very strong position to dispute this. Good luck. I hope you get it sorted.
Kelly - 10-Sep-14 @ 3:56 PM
We were buying a property, and included a good proportion of the furniture. We then decided that the property was not for us, and everything was cancelled through our solicitor.The vendor now states that we still have to purchase the furniture as per a verbal agreement, or legal proceedings will be taken against us.My solicitor is on holiday, so can you help please. Regards, Joy
Joy - 1-Aug-14 @ 5:47 PM
hi, im really interested in volunteering for law, i find law as a really interesting topic and hoping to be a barrister in later life. Please can you email me with more information. Thankyou
Dannii - 10-May-12 @ 2:41 PM
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