Frequently Asked Questions


How do I find UK legislation?

Our answer:

What is legislation? UK legislation includes:

  • Acts of Parliament - Major laws pass through the UK Parliament in the form of "Bills" (or draft legislation). When a Bill is approved by both Houses of Parliament, it receives the Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament. Law students should be aware that there are 2 different types of Acts - Public Acts and Local Acts. Acts of Parliament are also known as primary legislation.
  • Statutory Instruments - These are known as secondary, subordinate or delegated legislation. Statutory Instruments (SIs) allow the provisions of an Act to be brought into force. SIs may also amend the details of an Act, without the need for Parliament to pass a new Act. carries the “as enacted” and revised UK legislation. You will find the “as enacted” and revised versions together in one place. carries most types of UK legislation and their accompanying explanatory documents.

However, older Acts and Statutory Instruments are not included on the UK Parliament site. Also, the text of the Acts and Statutory Instruments is not searchable on that site. Therefore, you need to be aware that legislation (Acts and Statutory Instruments) are also included on 3 Online Library databases.

  • vLex Justis - UK Statutes as enacted from 1235 to present. Statutory Instruments from 1671 to present.
  • Lexis+ - amended UK Statutes and Statutory Instruments, and selected historical versions of acts from 1998.
  • Westlaw - amended UK Statutes and Statutory Instruments, and historical versions of acts from 1991.

While the text of individual Acts and Statutory Instruments will be the same on each of these 3 databases, you should be aware that the 3 databases are produced by different organisations and therefore each database has a slightly different interface. If you are new to searching legal databases, you may wish to try searching for legislation on each of the 3 databases mentioned above. After gaining experience in performing searches for legislation, you may develop a preference for a particular database.