The Statute Law Revision Programme operates within the Government Reform Unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and conducts comprehensive reviews of primary and secondary legislation, leading to the repeal or revocation of spent or obsolete legislation.
Statute Law Revision (Post 1922 Acts) Bill
Public Consultation on repeal of spent and obsolete Acts 1922-1950
Following the enactment of the Statute Law Revision Act 2015 in July of this year, the Statute Law Revision Programme has undertaken a comprehensive review of Public General Acts enacted by the Oireachtas from 1922 to 1950.
The purpose of the review, which has been carried out by the Statute Law Revision Programme, is to enable the preparation of a Statute Law Revision Bill to repeal Acts identified during the course of the review as spent and obsolete. This is the first time that Acts of the Oireachtas have been subject to a comprehensive review. The analysis of all 1124 Public General Acts enacted between 1922 and 1950 and the identification of those that are no longer necessary and can be repealed, marks an important step in the creation of a modern and accessible Statute Book.
A preliminary list of almost 300 Acts identified during the course of the review as suitable for repeal, is available here. This list will be updated should additional Acts be deemed suitable for repeal prior to publication of the Bill.
Persons with views on the repeal of Acts listed in the attached document may contact the Department at the following:
Post: Statute Law Revision Programme,
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,
7-9 Merrion Row,
Statute Law Revision Act 2015 was signed into law on 18 July 2015.
Text of the Act will be available on the Oireachtas website shortly. Text of the Bill as initiated is available at http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/bills/2015/2215/b2215d.pdf
Programme Aims and Benefits
Ireland’s unique legislative past has left us with a complex stock of legislation, with enactments from Parliaments of Ireland, England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Irish statute law consists of primary legislation (public, local and personal and private enactments from a number of sources) and secondary legislation. In addition there are a number of charters and instruments dating from before the establishment of the State which do not take the form of statutes, but nonetheless have or potentially have statutory effect. A substantial body of primary and secondary legislation enacted before 1922 remains in force in the State. Best practice in regulatory governance requires states to review their stock of legislation on a regular basis and to repeal and revoke that which is spent, unused, unnecessary, a potential contravention of rights, or otherwise appropriate for removal from the statute book.
The importance of simplifying this complex stock was noted with approval by the OECD Review of Better Regulation in Ireland 2010, which reported that initiatives such as the Statute Law Revision Acts were impressive efforts to address the challenge and improve accessibility. The current Programme for Government 2011-2016 also sets out the specific objective of progressing the Statute Law Revision Programme under the heading of ‘Overhauling the Way Politics and Government Work in light of its significant contribution to providing clarity on the content of the Irish Statute Book and improving regulatory effectiveness overall. In addition the Programme is a specific element of the Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016.
This process of Statute Law Revision provides valuable assistance to and saves time and costs for members of the public, legal professionals, parliamentary counsel, civil servants and any other persons who are involved in the drafting, analysis, or interpretation of legislation or instruments. It will provide a more accessible Statute Book for citizens, as our complicated stock of legislation is reduced and simplified.
History of Statute Law Revision Programme
Since the establishment of the State, a number of statute law revision measures have been enacted to repeal and reform pre-1922 statutes. These include the Fisheries (Statute Law Revision) Acts of 1949 and of 1956, the Short Titles Act 1962, the Statute Law Reform (Pre-Union Irish Statutes) Act 1962, and the Statute Law Revision Act 1983. However it was not until the commencement of the work of the statute law revision programme that a comprehensive and systematic review of the statute book was undertaken.
The current programme of statute law revision was established in 2003.
The Statute Law Revision (Pre-1922) Act 2005 was the first Act in the series, and repealed 207 Acts, which were specified in the first Schedule of the Act.
The Statute Law Revision Act 2007 was the culmination of a comprehensive audit of all pre-1922 public general primary legislation. Schedule 2 of the Act lists 3,225 Acts which it repealed, and schedule identified 1,364 Acts identified as not suitable for repeal in a Statute Law Revision Bill.
This Act adopted a unique repealing format which resulted in the repeal of all Public General Acts enacted prior to independence, with the exception of those listed in schedule 1. This approach to repeal simplifies the identification of repealed and retained Acts, and enables the compilation of a complete list of pre-1922 primary legislation which has remained in force. This approach has been followed in subsequent Acts.
The Statute Law Revision Act 2009 repealed Local and Personal Acts up to and including 1850 and Private Acts up to 1750 – in total 1,347 Acts were repealed. 138 Acts specified in the first schedule to the Act were retained.
The Statute Law Revision Act 2012 repealed all Local and Personal Acts enacted after 1850 and before 6 December 1922, and all Private Acts enacted after 1750 and before 6 December 1922. In total, 2,983 Acts were repealed, and 796 listed in the first schedule were retained.
In the preparation of the four Acts since 2005, approximately 60,000 statutes have been examined. Of the 60,000 statutes, approximately 40,000 were identified as not having applied to Ireland and have been implicitly repealed. Of the 20,000 Acts identified as applicable to Ireland, approximately 10,000 were found to have been repealed already, leaving 10,000 Acts of potential ongoing relevance to be assessed.
Of the 10,000 Acts with potential ongoing relevance, the 2005 Act, 2007 Act, 2009 Act and the 2012 Act have repealed approximately 7,800. The remaining 2,200 Acts have been assessed as not suitable for repeal and have been retained. A significant number of retained Acts have subsequently been repealed in subject matter-specific Acts and less than 2,000 pre-1922 Acts remain in force at the present day.
In total, around 95% of unrepealed pre-independence primary legislation has been repealed either expressly or implicitly under the current project during the past decade.
2012 – Present Day
In 2012, the Statute Law Revision Programme transferred from the Attorney General’s Office to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Subsequently the Programme has continued to accomplish a significant body of work, operating to tight deadlines and delivering cost effective results in completing the most extensive repealing initiative ever completed in any jurisdiction.
In July 2013, the Government approved the preparation of four additional Bills to advance the next phase of the Statute Law Revision Programme, namely:
- Statute Law Revision Post 1922 Bill
- Statute Law Revision (Pre-1948 Instruments) Bill
- Statute Law Revision (Post-1948 Instruments) Bill
- Statute Law Revision (Charters Bill)
Statute Law Revision Act 2015
The Statute Law Revision Bill 2015 was enacted in July 2015. It revoked all secondary instruments applicable to Ireland made before 1821, apart from 43 instruments specifically listed in its first schedule. The Act expressly revoked 5,782 instruments, are listed for information purposes are listed in the second schedule of the Bill.
The preparation of the Statute Law Revision Bill 2014 began in September 2013, with the chronological identification and assessment of numerous secondary instruments such as Orders, Proclamations and Declarations. There is no single source of secondary instruments applicable to Ireland. As a result, a full review of items contained in the Dublin Gazette, London Gazette and certain other printed collections was carried out by the Statute Law Revision Programme.
Secondary instruments identified following this review were then examined as to whether they were applicable to Ireland and suitable for revocation. Those applicable to Ireland are listed in schedule 1 if suitable for retention and schedule 2 if they are suitable for revocation. As with the previous statute law revision Bills, the format of the legislation will be to revoke all instruments coming within the ambit of the Bill, except those listed in schedule 1. However, schedule 2 provides for information purposes a list of revoked instruments.
The instruments are listed in table format. Schedule 1 has 4 columns and the schedule 2 has 3. Column 1 assigns a reference number to each instrument. Column 2, provides a citation based on the date of the instrument and its source material. The source materials are abbreviated to D.G. L.G and P.O.I. D.G means that the instrument was identified in the Dublin Gazette and L.G means that the instrument was identified in the London Gazette. A reference to “P.O.I” in column 2 indicates that the text is available in the 2014 Irish Manuscripts Commission edition of The Proclamations of Ireland, 1660-1820 in 5 volumes edited by James Kelly with Marian Lyons,. “Issue No.” refers to the particular issue of the London Gazette or Dublin Gazette that the instrument was published in. “Vol. and “p.” refer to the volume number and page number in the Proclamations of Ireland publications. Column 3 identifies the subject matter of each instrument and column 4 of schedule 1, identifies the relevant Department.