Structure of principal Acts

A principal Act can have the following 2 basic structural elements.

Body of a principal Act

The body of a principal Act is made up of provisions called sections that state the law.

Sections are sometimes organised within larger structures to assist readers in understanding how provisions fit together. These structures, beginning from the highest structural level, are:

  1. Chapter
  2. Part
  3. Division
  4. Subdivision

Although it is possible to have Chapters and Parts that consist only of sections, Divisions must occur in Parts and Subdivisions in Divisions.

For principal Acts that have Chapters or Parts as the highest level structure:

  • The first Chapter or Part will typically be headed "Preliminary" and contain the citation section, commencement section and a section dealing with interpretation (usually headed Definitions) and sometimes a section setting out the objects of the Act.
  • The last Chapter or Part will typically be headed “Miscellaneous” and usually contains a section dealing with the power of the Governor to make regulations and other miscellaneous provisions that are not related only to another Chapter or Part.

Schedules to a principal Act

The schedules to an Act are usually headed "Schedule". However, occasionally they may include dictionaries or differently named appendices. The schedules contain related ancillary or supplementary provisions.

For principal Acts, it is common for the following kinds of Schedules to be included:

  • A Schedule of repeals or amendments (or both) required for the Act to come into force.
  • A Schedule containing savings and transitional provisions.

For a Schedule containing savings and transitional provisions:

  • A savings provision is a provision that is intended to narrow the effect of the principal Act to preserve some existing legal rule, right or liability from its operation. For example, a savings provision might allow a person to exercise an existing right even though the principal Act abolishes it for the future.
  • A transitional provision is a provision that regulates how a principal Act comes into effect and (where necessary) modifies its effect during the period of transition. For example, a principal Act may defer the commencement of a new obligation to get a licence for a specified period to enable persons affected by the obligation to apply for one.
  • The Schedule will usually also contain a power for the Governor to make savings and transitional regulations consequent on the enactment of the principal Act or any other Act that amends it.

Last updated 30 August 2020 at 14:31