Nature and Numbering of English Acts of Parliament

We’ve been weeding the collection of reference materials now integrated into the Library’s Core Collection. (Don’t worry, we’re not throwing anything out; we’re just moving many of the older or no-longer-topical materials to the stacks or into storage.) In the process, we’ve found some pretty arcane and interesting things. This is one of them.

In 1955, the British House of Commons Library published a small pamphlet (“Document no. 1″ in a new series) entitled Acts of Paliament: Some Distinctions in their Nature and Numbering .Though only eight pages long, the pamphlet provides great detail on the disctinctions between Statutes, Acts, Public and Private Acts (Le Roy le veult vs Soit fait comme il est désiré), Local Acts, Personal Acts, Private Acts, Local and Personal Acts, Local and Private Acts and other variations.and combinations and how these meanings changed and merged from the 13th to the 20th centures. There’s also information on how the nature of an act determined whether it could be received as evidence in a court of law and how it might be interpreted. Further, there’s information on how these acts would be collected, organized into “chapters”, printed, numbered with arabic or roman numerals in upper or lower case, in roman or italic font (all of which are significant in the numbering systems) and many more arcane minutiae than most of us would care to know but  which some of our readers will, I suspect, find fascinating!

For the true devotee of legal research, this publication is a must-read!

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