What is the Legislation Directory?
The Legislation Directory is a publicly available index which tracks changes to primary legislation from the pre and post 1922 periods, and to secondary legislation from 1985 onwards. The Legislation Directory is no longer published as such on the Irish Statute Book online website, but the relevant tables are linked from each page of the Acts and SIs.
For example, if you need to find out in what ways the Succession Act 1965 has been amended, you look up 1965, find the Succession Act and click on the button "Commencement, Amendments, SIs made under the Act". The amending legislation is hyperlinked so you can quickly check out what the amendment entails.
The Legislation Directory is a vital source of information for legal professionals and anyone working with legislation to assist them in checking the current version of the law. It is the key index in making law accessible to users. The ongoing maintenance by the Commission of the Legislation Directory complements the Commission's work on preparation of Revised Acts, which uses the research in the Legislation Directory to produce up to date versions of legislation.
The Legislation Directory and Economic Growth
The Legislation Directory has a key role to play in the wider context of principles of Better Regulation, which are listed in the Government's Policy Statement on Regulating for a Better Future (Department of the Taoiseach, 2013). These include the principle of transparency, which aims to ensure that legislation is accessible to all notably by making legislation available online, thus forming part of an eLegislation strategy. Significant elements of this strategy are already in place. These include the electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB), which contains the full text of Acts and Statutory Instruments as enacted as well as the Legislation Directory, which as already mentioned is a searchable guide to legislative changes. Other elements include the electronic Statutory Instruments System (eSIS), the Legislative Workbench system in the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Classified List of Legislation in Ireland. Revised Acts involve an important additional element by providing access to the consolidated, as amended, text of a large number of Acts.
Work of the Commission on the Legislation Directory
In 2007, functional respsonsibility for the Legislation Directory (previously called the Chronological Tables of the Statutes) was assigned to the Law Reform Commission at the request of the Attorney General. The Commission saw its new responsibility as complementary to its work on the administrative consolidation of legislation (now Revised Acts) and its general commitment to improving access to legislation.
In July 2008 the Commission published a Consultation Paper on The Legislation Directory: Towards a Best Practice Model (LRC CP 49-2008). The Consultation Paper reviewed the development of the Directory and discussed how it could be further enhanced in terms of content and accessibility. Proposals for improvement of the Directory included more timely updates, the inclusion of comprehensive commencement information for Acts and their individual provisions, and association of statutory instruments with enabling Acts. The Commission began implementing these proposals with effect from 2006, and in 2015 extended them back to 2000. By mid 2018 they extended them back to 1985, and work continues.
The Commission has also identified the need for a similar index for statutory instruments. Many statutory instruments are amended by other statutory instruments, but this information was not being tracked and was leading to great uncertainty, mistakes and delays while users of legislation undertook time-consuming searches of the repository of legislation. Since 2009, the Commission has developed a Legislation Directory for statutory instruments for the period back to 1985 (in mid 2018), and changes made by statutory instruments continue to be recorded going forward. The Commission sees the need to extend the Legislation Directory for Statutory Instruments back to at least 1972, when the State became a member of the European Communities, and is working to do so.
Other work was undertaken to complete information already held in the index. The Commission added legislative effects made prior to 1922 to pre-1922 legislation preserved by the Statute Law Revisions Act 2007, which had previously not been included. A major review of all statutory instruments was undertaken to identify those which were still in force, were spent or were obsolete, and work is ongoing to add these to a Classified List of Legislation, classified under their enabling Acts, first published in 2016.
The Commission also maintains a full list of Collective Citations for Acts which includes all collectively cited Acts within each collective citation. This list complements the short version of the list published on the eISB, which contains only the most recent source of each collective citation.