Legislating to Communicate: Trends in Drafting Commonwealth Legislation

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Tanner, Edwin (2002) Legislating to Communicate: Trends in Drafting Commonwealth Legislation. Sydney Law Review, 24 (4). pp. 529-557. ISSN 0082-0512


This article explores the extent to which 'the Commonwealth's new approach to drafting [is] making laws easier to understand'. The drafting of Commonwealth legislation is handled by two bodies. Commonwealth Bills are drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel (OPC), while the Office of Legislative Drafting (OLD) is responsible for drafting subordinate legislation. A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth) and the Gene Technology Act 2000 (Cth)were drafted by the OPC while the OLD drafted the Australian Road Rules 1999 (Cth) and the Pig Industry Act 2001 (Cth). Each of Turnbull's guidelines has been applied to the whole of the Pig Industry Act 2001 (Cth) because of its brevity and to a purposive sample from each of the other three pieces of legislative drafting. In 1975, linguist Gustafsson analysed some syntactic properties of a typical piece of conventional legal English. She chose the Courts Act 1971 (UK) because it had been asserted that legislative drafting was more syntactically complicated and more difficult to understand than any other variety of English. Her results are given in Table A as a basis for a limited comparison with some recent Commonwealth drafting. To encompass all Tumbull's guidelines, a broader analysis has been applied to the Commonwealth drafting and the results given in Table C.

Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/1893
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 390000 Law, Justice and Law Enforcement
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Law
Keywords football, litigation, constitutional law, Australia law and legislation, competition, appeals, commercial law, courts
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