Commonwealth Legislative Drafting Manual

image of Commonwealth Legislative Drafting Manual

In 1976, recognising that there was a shortage of trained legislative drafters in the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth Secretariat first published a legislative drafting manual aimed at informing those practitioners with little or no previous experience in the skill, and assisting those with some experience who had never considered why drafting needed to be undertaken in a particular way.

That aim remains, but more than 40 years later there have been important changes in the way legislation is drafted. These mainly concern the perceived need to make it more accessible to those to be affected by it, in particular by the use of plain language and sentence structures that relate more closely to those used in formal non-legislative documents.

In the light of these and other changes, the Commonwealth Legislative Drafting Manual has been completely rewritten, and it now guides the practitioner step by step through the various things he or she needs to know. It also contains a series of appendices relating to the procedure for the preparation of legislation, the contents of drafting instructions, and some hints to the beginner on the best approaches to the task.



What is Legislation and why is it Drafted the Way it is?

If asked to define what is meant by ‘legislation’, most people would probably say that it is ‘a set of written rules for the conduct of society’. That is of course correct in very general terms, but leaving aside the fact that rule-making authorities exist at different levels in society (national, state, municipal and other authorities such as those set up to manage airports and harbours, even down to local sports or social clubs of various kinds), the term ‘legislation’ is usually used to mean rules that are made by a body that has been given the power under the Constitution to make them. This body goes under a variety of names in different jurisdictions but it is typically referred to as ‘Parliament’.


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error