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Report 35

Legislation Manual Structure and Style

May 1996

Wellington, New Zealand

Table of Contents

The Law Commission is an independent, publicly funded, central advisory body established by statute to undertake the systematic review, reform and development of the law of New Zealand. Its purpose is to help achieve law that is just, principled, and accessible, and that reflects the heritage and aspirations of the peoples of New Zealand.

The Commissioners are:

The Hon Justice Wallace—Deputy President
Professor Richard Sutton
Leslie H Atkins QC
Joanne Morris OBE
Judge Margaret Lee

The Director of the Law Commission is Robert Buchanan.

The office is at 89 The Terrace, Wellington.
Postal address: PO Box 2590, Wellington, New Zealand 6001.
Document Exchange Number SP 23534.
Telephone: (04) 473 3453. Facsimile: (04) 471 0959.

Report/Law Commission Wellington 1996

ISSN 0113-2334

This report may be cited as: NZLC R35

Also published as Parliamentary Paper E 31Y


29 May 1996

Dear Minister

I am pleased to submit to you Report No 35 of the Law Commission, Legislation Manual: Structure and Style.

The Commission is of the view that legislative drafting in New Zealand would be more consistent and effective if drafters and instructing officials were able to consult a comprehensive set of guidelines. The Legislation Manual aims to provide such assistance. It also represents a means by which the Commission can fulfil its obligation under s 5(1)(d) of the Law Commission Act 1985 and respond to a subsequent broad Ministerial reference on legislation, by advising “on ways in which the law of New Zealand can be made as understandable and accessible as is practicable”.

As envisaged at present, the Legislation Manual will eventually comprise four separate parts, of which two are being issued in this report. Another part will deal with the process of enacting legislation but is being held back until the impact of New Zealand’s new electoral system can be assessed. The last part will provide detailed discussion of and precedents for recurring drafting issues.

This report is concerned with the structure and style of legislation and largely reflects current drafting practice. In certain details it departs from current practice, however; and it also draws to a large extent on the Commission’s proposed new Interpretation Act, recommended in its Report No 17 in 1990, and its recommended new format of legislation in Report No 27 in 1993.

We recommend this Legislation Manual to the New Zealand Government as a means of providing rules and guidelines for the drafting of understandable and accessible legislation in New Zealand.

Yours sincerely

The Hon Justice Wallace

Hon Douglas Graham MP
Minister of Justice
Parliament House

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