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identify which legislation is still in force in Ireland, and to decide which legislation should be retained (kept) or repealed (removed).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 a 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 (2022)
- Current Programme
- Consultation Process
- Overall aims of the SLRP
Achievements to date (2022)
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- Primary legislation: Most pre-1922 Acts have been repealed.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.
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.
What have we done?
We picked up from the 1821 timeline set by the Statute Law Revision Act 2015 and we have examined thousands of statutory and prerogative instruments covering the period from 1 January 1821 through to the end of 1860.
How did we do that?
Building on the approach in earlier SLRP work, we identified the relevant sources. These 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)
What is our aim?
Our aim is to have a Statute Law Revision Bill enacted during this year to coincide with and celebrate the centenary of the State. This Bill will revoke the instruments that are obsolete, not relevant to this jurisdiction or have been replaced by modern legislation. This will mean that we will know exactly how much secondary legislation remains in force from 1821 to 1860.
The Bill will include:
- a Schedule of the instruments that are being revoked, and
- a Schedule of the instruments that are being retained.
We are following 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.
This is being done in two stages.
- STAGE ONE: DEPARTMENTAL CONSULTATION
We have completed Stage One which involved a consultation process with Government departments, bodies and agencies. We established which instruments were relevant to each and sent the instruments to them, seeking their views on whether those instruments should be revoked or kept on the statute book.
- STAGE TWO: PUBLIC CONSULTATION
Stage Two was launched on March 8 and closed on April 5. The public were invited to submit any views on the instruments which were listed for revocation or retention. Any views expressed will be taken into account before preparing the final Schedules for the Bill. The draft list of instruments remains available. Please click here for Instruments recommend for retention and please click here for instruments recommended for revocation. (Please note however that the consultation process is complete.)
We intend to publish a Report about the work we have done.
Is there more to be done?
Yes, more work will be required to deal with the instruments from 1861 to 1922.
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.
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.
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.