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 all secondary legislation from 1972 onwards, and incompletely before that date. 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 March 2019 all changes made by SIs from 1 January 1972 were reflected in the Directory, and this aspect of the work concluded. By May 2020 all SIs made under Acts enacted from 1936 onwards, including commencement orders, were included in the LD tables for those Acts, and work continues to extend the inclusion of SIs made under Acts enacted in the period 1935 to 1922.
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 those not revoked were added to the Classified List of Legislation, classified under their enabling Acts, first published with SIs included in 2016. Many SIs which appear to be obsolete but not revoked are included, with footnotes explaining their probable obsolete status.
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.