2. Accessibility of Legislation

Under the heading Access to Legislation, the Commission is involved in three connected activities (Revised Acts, the Legislation Directory and the Classified List of In-Force Legislation) that are aimed at ensuring greater online accessibility of legislation. This derives from one of the Commission's statutory functions under the Law Reform Commission Act 1975 to keep the law under review and to conduct research with a view to reforming the law, which includes the revision and consolidation of legislation. The Commission is also engaged in a project to support the consolidation or codification of legislation.

2.1 Revised Acts

In 2006, the Government requested the Commission, consistent with its statutory functions under the 1975 Act, to assume responsibility for the preparation of Revised Acts (at that time, Restatements). A Revised Act is an administrative consolidation of that Act-as-amended, and brings together in a single text all amendments and changes to an Act, making the law more accessible for all users. For example, the Bankruptcy Act 1988 and the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 have been amended many times since they were enacted, and it is therefore important to have available an up-to-date version that incorporates all amendments to them. The Commission currently publishes, and maintains up to date, over 340 Revised Acts on this website. For more information on Revised Acts, click here.

2.2 Legislation Directory: Amendments to Legislation and Other Effects

The Legislation Directory (previously called the Chronological Tables of the Statutes) is a publicly available database that documents amendments made to all Acts enacted since 1922; and to those pre-1922 Acts that remain in force in accordance with the Statute Law Revision Act 2007. The Commission has had functional responsibility for the development and maintenance of the Legislation Directory since 2007, since when it has added a number of enhancements, including commencement information and other legislative effects to Acts enacted since 2000; and a (partial) Legislation Directory that (currently) tracks amendments made to statutory instruments since 1987, with entries for earlier years being prepared. The Legislation Directory is hosted on the electronic Irish Statute Book, eISB, at www.irishstatutebook.ie where it now consists of an integrated link from the full text of each Act. For more information on the Legislation Directory click here.

2.3 Classified List of In-Force Legislation in Ireland

In 2010, the Commission developed a Classified List of In-Force Legislation in Ireland, which groups under 36 subject headings all Acts enacted by the Oireachtas since 1922 that remain in force (over 2,000 of the 3,000 enacted since 1922), together with over 100 of the most significant pre-1922 Acts that remain in force. The Classified List identifies related groups of Acts, for example, all those dealing with business regulation, criminal law, employment law, family law and taxation, which assists accessibility for all those affected by the law, whether individuals, businesses or State bodies. The Commission regularly publishes updates of the Classified List on this website. In 2016 the Commission published a companion draft Classified List of In-Force Statutory Instruments, using the same 36 headings in the Classified List of In-Force Acts. For more information on the Classified List, click here.

2.4 Consolidation/Codification/Simplification of Legislation

In 2014, the Commission began work on its project concerning the consolidation, codification and simplification of legislation (4th Programme of Law Reform, Project 11). This project examines how legislation is produced and published in order to support its availability in consolidated or codified form and builds on the Commission’s Access to Legislation work, above. The project examines the procedures, processes and standards for the enactment of codification Bills and the retention of codified Acts as they are amended over time. The Commission published an Issues Paper on this project (LRC IP 11-2016) Issues Paper on Accessibility, Consolidation and Online Publication of Legislation in December 2016.  The Issues Paper discusses how legislation - in particular Acts of the Oireachtas - is currently made available publicly, and examines what additional steps can be made to make legislation in its up-to-date form more easily available, especially online.  The IP points out that except for the 290 Revised Acts on the Commission's website, it is very difficult to trace the up-to-date legislation on many topics without spending significant amounts of time doing this.  The Paper therefore addresses to what extent a number of areas, such as planned programmes of consolidation, and maximising technology in the online publication of legislation, could improve the accessibility of legislation in Ireland.  The Paper discusses how other countries have addressed these problems, then identifies 5 key areas and asks related questions on which the Commission is seeking views, specifically:

  • whether the 4 priniciples identified by the Commission (that legislation should be comprehensive, up-to-date, freely available and underpinned by defined legislative publishing standards) are sufficient for the purposes of this project
  • what initiatives should be taken to procedure comprehensive law
  • how to ensure that consolidated legislation is kept up to date when it is amended
  • how to make the best use of online technology and
  • the kind of underlying standard we need to make sure that any programme to make legislation available in its up to date form

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