Statute Law Revision Programme

This page describes the pre-1922 Statute Law Revision Programme (SLRP).

 

What is the SLRP?

The aim of the SLRP is to is to identify which legislation is still in force in Ireland, and to decide which legislation should be retained (kept) or repealed (removed). This will help to ensure a modern and accessible statute book.

When Ireland became the Free State in 1922, it inherited thousands of laws made by the British Government and by the Government of the United Kingdom. Many of these laws remain in force today. The current SLRP is examining the legislation from this period.

 

Read on to learn about:

  • Achievements to date (2021)

  • Next steps for the SLRP

  • Overall aims of the SLRP

 

Achievements to date (2021)

Six Statute Law Revision Acts have been enacted between 2005 and 2016. So far, these Acts have focused on primary legislation (Acts) made before 1922, and secondary legislation (statutory and prerogative instruments) made before 1821.

  • Primary legislation: Most pre-1922 Acts have been repealed. Just over 1,000 of these pre-1922 Acts remain in force. You can see the list of Acts in force (known as the White list) in the schedule to the Statute Law Revision Act 2007. Many of them can be accessed online on the electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB).
  • Secondary legislation: The SLRP teams researched secondary legislation up to and including 1820. The Statute Law Revision Act 2015 revoked all instruments made before 1821 and retained just 43.

In summary, this means we now know what primary legislation made before 1922, and what secondary legislation made before 1821, is in force in Ireland.

 

Next steps for the SLRP

The Law Reform Commission, with the support of the Office of the Attorney General, is now responsible for the SLRP. We work within the Access to Legislation division, as we share the same aim—to make legislation accessible for all.

The current SLRP has picked up from the 1821 timeline set by the Statute Law Revision Act 2015. We are examining thousands of secondary instruments made between 1821 and 1922. Our aim is to have a Statute Law Revision Bill enacted during 2022 to coincide with and celebrate the centenary of the State.

This will mean that we will know exactly how much secondary legislation remains in force from 1821 to 1922.

 

Ultimate goal

Our ultimate aim is to digitise any secondary legislation which is suitable to be retained in force and make it available on the eISB. The State will then have a complete list of all in-force legislation, both primary and secondary, in Ireland. This will reinforce the status of the eISB as the main online repository of legislation in the State.

 

What do we have to do?

We will examine thousands of instruments covering the period from 1 January 1821 through to 1922.

 

How do we do that?

Building on the approach in earlier SLRP work, we have identified the relevant sources for our work. These sources are:

  • the London and Dublin Gazettes,
  • the annual volumes of Statutory Rules and Orders (SROs),
  • revised versions of SROs (published by authority),
  • volume 4 of Steele’s Bibliography of Proclamations (1913 edition)

 

How many Bills will be required?

The work will require at least two Statute Law Revision Bills.

  • We are working on the first Bill which is dealing with the instruments from 1821 to 1860.
  • Another Bill will deal with the instruments from 1861 to 1922.

 

We will also prepare the Schemes/Heads of those Bills, which will include:

  • a Schedule of the instruments that are being revoked, and
  • a Schedule of the instruments that are being retained.

 

What about consultation?

We will follow the approach used by previous SLRP teams by consulting on our draft Bill. This method is consistent with our approach to law reform projects and Access to Legislation work.

A consultation process means that we inform and invite feedback from the following:

  • Government departments, bodies and agencies,
  • the public and any other interested parties.

 

Our consultation is done in two stages.

  1. We are currently in Stage One, consulting with Government departments, bodies and agencies. We establish which instruments are relevant to each department, body or agency, and send the instruments to them, seeking their views on whether those instruments should be repealed or kept on the statute book.
  2. Then, we will move to Stage Two which involves a shorter consultation for members of the public. We will advertise our progress in the media, and we will publish the full list of instruments on this webpage. The public and any interested parties will then be invited to submit their views.

 

Overall aims of the current SLRP

Completing our work on pre-1922 secondary legislation will deliver four main policy-related outcomes:

Rule of law

In a state that follows the rule of law principle, citizens and businesses should know the law that regulates them, and whether that law is in force. Our work will identify definitively what pre-1922 secondary legislation still applies.

Reduced compliance cost

Our work will reduce compliance costs for businesses and for public servants and regulatory bodies, who must spend time and money finding the up-to-date picture of legislation. Rights and obligations imposed by law should be easy to find. In this way, the SLRP is consistent with the Government’s 2013 policy statement, Regulating for a Better Future.

Consolidation of legislation

Our work will facilitate future proposals to repeal, re-enact (where necessary, with amendments) and consolidate the State’s legislation. This is consistent with the analysis in the OECD’s 2010 Better Regulation in Europe: Ireland.

Digital first

Our goal aligns with the ‘digital first’ objective of the Government’s Civil Service Renewal 2030 Strategy, ‘Building on Our Strengths’. Our work on pre-1922 secondary legislation will complete the process of having a definitive list of all retained pre-1922 legislation and making it available online on the eISB.