Short title
The short title is the formal name by which a piece of primary legislation
Primary legislation
Primary legislation is law made by the legislative branch of government. This contrasts with secondary legislation, which is usually made by the executive branch...

 may by law be cited
Legal citation
Legal citation is the practice of crediting and referring to authoritative documents and sources. The most common sources of authority cited are court decisions , statutes, regulations, government documents, treaties, and scholarly writing....

 in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and other Westminster-influenced jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

s (such as Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 or Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

), as well as the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It contrasts with the long title
Long title
The long title is the formal title appearing at the head of a statute or other legislative instrument...

 which, while usually being more fully descriptive of the legislation's purpose and effects, is generally too unwieldy for most uses. For example, the short title House of Lords Act 1999
House of Lords Act 1999
The House of Lords Act 1999 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was given Royal Assent on 11 November 1999. The Act reformed the House of Lords, one of the chambers of Parliament. For centuries, the House of Lords had included several hundred members who inherited their seats;...

contrasts with the long title An Act to restrict membership of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage; to make related provision about disqualifications for voting at elections to, and for membership of, the House of Commons; and for connected purposes.


Unlike the long title, which precedes the preamble
A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. When applied to the opening paragraphs of a statute, it may recite historical facts pertinent to the subject of the statute...

 and enacting formula, and thus sits outside the main body of text, the short title for modern legislation is explicitly defined by a specific section, typically at the very end or very beginning of the main text. As with the above example, short titles are generally made up of just a few words that describe in broad terms the area of law being changed or the thing affected, followed by the word "Act" and then the year in which the legislation is formally enacted. The titles of legislation enacted by the United States Congress, if they include a year, invariably add the preposition "of" between the word "Act" and the year. Compare the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 was an act passed by the Parliament of Australia in 1992 to promote the rights of people with disabilities in certain areas such as housing, education and provision of goods and services...

 (Cth), Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which has now been repealed and replaced by the Equality Act 2010 , except in Northern Ireland where the Act still applies...

 (UK), and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and later amended with changes effective January 1, 2009....

 (USA). However, this U.S. federal practice is not necessarily followed by U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 governments; for example, the Act of the Pennsylvania legislature
Pennsylvania General Assembly
The Pennsylvania General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The legislature convenes in the State Capitol building in Harrisburg. In colonial times , the legislature was known as the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly. Since the Constitution of 1776, written by...

 that consolidated the governments of the city of Philadelphia and Philadelphia County
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania
-History:Tribes of Lenape were the first known occupants in the area which became Philadelphia County. The first European settlers were Swedes and Finns who arrived in 1638. The Netherlands seized the area in 1655, but permanently lost control to England in 1674...

 is generally (though not formally) called the Act of Consolidation, 1854
Act of Consolidation, 1854
The Act of Consolidation, more formally known as the act of February 2, 1854 , was enacted by General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and approved February 2, 1854 by Governor William Bigler...

. The vast majority of Acts passed by the Parliament of Canada
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 do not include the year of enactment as part of the short title.

Draft legislation (bills
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

) also uses short titles, but substitutes the word "Bill" for "Act".


Republic of Ireland

An Act may be cited in an enactment or other document by, amongst other things, the short title of the Act.

Effect of repeal

United Kingdom

An Act may continue to be cited by the short title authorised by any enactment notwithstanding the repeal of that enactment.


Originally short titles had a comma preceding the year; whether this is retained or not depends on the country involved: it has been dropped in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, but retained in Canada.

United Kingdom

It is actually not necessary to use the comma as, although normal punctuation is now used by draftsmen, and is included in Queen's Printer's copies of Acts of Parliament, it is not part of an Act of Parliament.

The comma preceding the calendar year in printed copies of Acts is omitted on the authority of a note by Sir Noel Hutton QC, First Parliamentary Counsel, as to which see "The Citation of Statutes" 82 LQR
Law Quarterly Review
The Law Quarterly Review is an academic legal periodical published by Sweet & Maxwell. It was first published in 1885...

 24-24. The validity of this note is questioned by Halsbury's Laws of England
Halsbury's Laws of England
Halsbury's Laws of England is a uniquely comprehensive and authoritative encyclopaedia of law, and provides the only complete narrative statement of law in England and Wales. It has an alphabetised title scheme covering all areas of law, drawing on authorities including Acts of the United Kingdom,...

, Fourth Edition, Reissue, Volume 44(1), footnote 10 to paragraph 1268.

Glanville Williams said that it "seems sensible" to omit the comma preceding the calendar year in references to Acts passed before 1963.

Republic of Ireland

In citing an Act by its short title, a comma immediately before a reference to a year and a comma immediately after such a reference that is not required for the purpose of punctuation may be omitted.


Since the second half of the nineteenth century, short titles have become the usual method of referencing earlier statute law within legislation itself. In the UK this replaced the earlier method of citing the long title together with the chapter no. and the regnal year
Regnal year
A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third, and...

(s) of the parliamentary session
Parliamentary session
A legislative session is the period of time in which a legislature, in both parliamentary and presidential systems, is convened for purpose of lawmaking, usually being one of two or more smaller divisions of the entire time between two elections...

 in which it received Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

. For example, modern legislation would simply refer to "the Evidence Act 1845", whereas in the past it would have been necessary to use wording such as the Act passed in the eighth and ninth year of Her Majesty's reign chapter one hundred and thirteen intituled "An Act to facilitate the Admission in Evidence of certain official and other Documents".

Short titles were introduced because the titles of statutes (now commonly known as long title
Long title
The long title is the formal title appearing at the head of a statute or other legislative instrument...

s) had become so long that they were no longer a useful means of citation. For example, the title of 19 Geo.2 c.26 (1745) (Attainder of the Earl Kellie and others) ran to 65 lines of King's printer and to over 400 words.

Short titles were first introduced for Acts of Parliament in 1840's. Amending Acts also began to take the opportunity to create short titles for earlier Acts as well as for themselves. Eventually the Short Titles Act 1892 (55 & 56 Vict. c.10) was passed to create short titles for almost all remaining legislation. This statute was repealed and replaced by the Short Titles Act 1896, which conferred short titles on about 2,000 Acts. The Short Titles Act (Northern Ireland) 1951 conferred short titles on 179 Acts applying to Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. The Statute Law Revision (Scotland) Act 1964
Statute Law Revision (Scotland) Act 1964
The Statute Law Revision Act 1964 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland....

 conferred short titles on 164 pre-union Acts of the Parliament of Scotland
Parliament of Scotland
The Parliament of Scotland, officially the Estates of Parliament, was the legislature of the Kingdom of Scotland. The unicameral parliament of Scotland is first found on record during the early 13th century, with the first meeting for which a primary source survives at...

. Similar Acts have been passed in other jurisdictions, such as the Short Titles Act, 1962 in the Republic of Ireland.

Name changes

In a small number of cases, particular Acts have had more than one short title given to them, for example because subsequent amendments to their contents have rendered the earlier name inaccurate. Likewise, the Supreme Court Act 1981, has been renamed the "Senior Courts Act 1981" by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords as well as some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and removed the functions of Speaker of...

, because the Supreme Court of Judicature
Supreme Court of Judicature
Supreme Court of Judicature may refer to:* Supreme Court of Judicature . Supreme Court of Barbados* Supreme Court of Judicature , Supreme Court of Guyana* Supreme Court of Judicature , the supreme court in Ireland from 1877 to 1920...

, the subject of the 1981 Act, is being renamed because of the creation of a new, unrelated court called (perhaps confusingly) the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court in all matters under English law, Northern Ireland law and Scottish civil law. It is the court of last resort and highest appellate court in the United Kingdom; however the High Court of Justiciary remains the supreme court for criminal...


British (and English
Parliament of England
The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England. In 1066, William of Normandy introduced a feudal system, by which he sought the advice of a council of tenants-in-chief and ecclesiastics before making laws...

) legislation that has been "inherited" by the legal systems of other countries has also sometimes ended up with a short title in one jurisdiction that differs from that used in another; for example, the Act of Parliament that created Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 in 1867 is formally known in Canada as the Constitution Act, 1867
Constitution Act, 1867
The Constitution Act, 1867 , is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system...

, whereas it is still known as the British North America Act 1867 in British law; note also the differing comma convention.


An example of a particularly lengthy short title is the "Artisans and Labourers Dwellings Act (1868) Amendment Act (1879) Amendment Act 1880".
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