Act of Parliament


The main sources of law in the UK are legislation (or Acts of Parliament) and the common law (or judge-made law, or case law). It is legislation which makes up by far the most significant part of the UK legal system today.

The most important legislation is an Act of Parliament (primary legislation). An Act of Parliament becomes law when the Bill (its previous incarnation) is approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and then receives Royal Assent from the Queen.

Another type of legislation which makes up a substantial body of legislation is delegated legislation. Delegated legislation is in the form of Regulations or Orders. Delegated legislation is made under the authority of primary legislation (an enabling Act). The Local Government Act 1972 also confers powers to local authorities to issue delegated legislation called by-laws. Delegated legislation does not have to be approved in advance by Parliament.

Legislation and common law interact when judges interpret an Act of Parliament or other legislation when deciding cases before them. Where they are inconsistent, legislation will override the common law. Common law cannot override legislation. Legislation can only be overruled or amended by subsequent legislation.

Interpretation of legislation is a difficult task, as it is difficult to determine how the abstract rules set down by Parliament will apply to the complex factual circumstances of a particular situation. It is difficult to predict how the courts will interpret a particular Act of Parliament. Additionally, a piece of legislation will never cover all relevant aspects of that area of law. Thus, case law will develop both to interpret legislation and to fill in the gaps that legislation does not cover. If you are affected by a particular Act of Parliament, it is important to obtain advice from a specialist solicitor who understands both the application of that Act and the case law applicable to it.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on an Act of Parliament, Caven can put you in touch with local specialist solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local specialist solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.

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