Harmonised Laws and Legal Terminology

Suggested clause:

All enactments in the [UK] must, as far as possible be in the same format and use the same language and legal terminology; and

- The Courts of the [UK] must, as far as possible, use the same language and legal terminology.'

Idea behind the clause:

Legilslation in the UK is in many cases created on a "reserved" basis meaning that the statute in question is akin to a "federal" law to be applied throughout the UK.  An example would be the Companies Acts.

However, much legislation is still applicable only to England and Wales, to Scotland or indeed to Northern Ireland.  In addition, even where "federal" laws are passed, these are often split into various sections dealing with each of the parts of the UK, so as to allow them to be phrased in legal language that is specific to the part in question.

In my view, our country as a whole would be well served if we strived to avoid unnecessary differences and technical legal language in our statutes that ordinary people do not in any event easily understand or particularly care about and which indeed are a barrier to ready undrestanding of the law of the land.



Tagged users
edited on Apr 11, 2015 by Ian Smith

Debra Storr Apr 5, 2015

oh dear.  Scotland has a separate legal system which of course the Scots will claim as superior.  my understanding that converting to practise under English law is easier than v.v. So perhaps Scots legal traditions are adopted ....

i do do agree that Acts need to be simpler and I abhor the practise of fractional amendment of acts so you get 1947 Act as amended in 1953, 1967, 1981, and 2006 with repeals of sections and clauses and additions of others.  Ok: have one amending Act - but then if you want a further round of Amended please can we have a Colsolidated Act, including all the amendments?  

Ian Smith Apr 5, 2015

Dear All,

I am posting a quick comment here and in my other ideas.

Firstly, I want to say how much I have enjoyed seeing all of your contributions on this and other ideas and how impressed I am with the range of expertise and erudition which has filled these debates.

Secondly, I wish to put forward a couple of suggestions as to a way forward at this stage.  They are:

A.   I suggest that we all refrain from further voting until the ideas have been refined and represented and have then been debated for a while.  My thinking here is that we will want to see the reshaped ideas and see the comments on those refined ideas before we decide whether they are to be voted up or down,  I do not think that we should refrain from voting on comments but perhaps try not to vote to hastily on them.

B.  Now that the hurly burly of the "Hacking" phase (some of it quite savage) has passed, I hope and wish that we will adopt a more collaborative and less combative approach in our commentary, so that commentary is given a chance to be constructive and really do the job of refining the ideas in question.

C.  I would hope that we can refrain from attacking the very existence of the idea under discussion in this phase or the fact that it has successfully gone through to this phase against the wishes of those who voted it down.  I sincerely hope that the previous critics of an idea, will still respect that it found favour with the crowd and now help to refine the idea in this phase.

Thirdly, I will try my best not to introduce any more typos and mangled phrases! 

Best wishes for the holiday week end!


Ian Smith Apr 6, 2015

Debra, you make good points. I was well aware when I wrote this idea that it may turn out to be one if the more difficult ideas to formulate into the constitution.  On harmonisation, I will refine the idea to come up with what is doable. I will also re-look at consolidation/ codification of legislation.  Kind regards, ian

Ian Smith Apr 7, 2015

Dear All,

Before I draft a suggested clause for the constitution, I should be very grateful if you would let me have any further thoughts on this idea and in particular the form of a constitutional clause.

Kind regards,


Michael Ward Apr 11, 2015

Hi IanSmith1. Thanks for your great contributions so far. Just to let you know that in the refining phase we are no longer discussing the merits or otherwise of an idea for the moment. Further critiquing will occur at the Constitutional Convention stage. Instead we are trying to refine ideas into concise propositions. Therefore it would be great if you could post your draft clause so people could see what they think.