Legislative Drafting

Legislative Drafting 2

The School of Law – Lahore offered a FULL day training course on LEGISLATIVE DRAFTING (Techniques and Practice) on 28th Nov, 2015



A qualified barrister, Ronan Cormacian has been a legislative drafter for 14 years.  He has drafted and advised on legislation on a wide range of subjects for a variety of clients.  These include governments, backbenchers, law commissions charities and commercial organisations.  He has worked in the following jurisdictions: Northern Ireland, Wales, England, the Falkland Islands, the Channel Islands and Azerbaijan.
He has masters degrees (both at Distinction level) from Queen’s University Belfast and the University of London.  He is a guest lecturer at the University of London, lecturing on the LLM in Advanced Legislative Studies and the Summer Course in Legislative Drafting.  He also runs workshops for drafters and civil servants on legislation and drafting.  He has published several articles on the field of legislation and legislative drafting, most recently in Statute Law Review, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, The Loophole, Theory and Practice of Legislation, European Journal of Law Reform, and the Web Journal of Current Legal Issues.
He is working on his PhD on legislative drafting and the rule of law and is one of the directors at the Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic, based at the University of London.  The Clinic provides drafting advice to those in need of it, as well as training in legislative drafting to drafters from around the world.

The purpose of the Training was to provide the participants with:

  1. An overview of legislative drafting globally and the characteristics of good and bad quality legislation,
  2. An understanding of the techniques and processes used in the drafting of legislation,
  3. An overview of the use of language, grammar and punctuation in legislation and the challenges of using precise and clear language to achieve the policy outcomes intended,
  4. An explanation of the structure of legislation and how its objectives are achieved,
  5. Insights into Amending legislation, Codification and statute law revision,
  6. Statutory Interpretation,
  7. An understanding of the difference between primary and secondary legislation and the principles and policies to be applied in the use of secondary legislation,
  8. An opportunity to undertake a short drafting exercise and understand the challenges of drafting legislation and understand issues of statutory interpretation.


Session 1 – Quality in Legislation
Four key questions were addressed.  1.  What is legislation?  2. What are the principles for determining good quality legislation (referring to Xanthaki’s functional approach). 3. What inputs are necessary for good quality legislation? 4. Who is legislation for?
Session 2 – Plain language drafting
Plain language is regarded as one of the criteria for quality in legislation.  The main component of this session had an in depth look at many plain language techniques.
Session 3 – Gender neutral drafting
Most countries around the world have adopted gender neutral drafting.  We examined the rationale behind it as well as looking at the standard arguments against it.  The main component of this session examined the various gender neutral drafting techniques.
Session 4 – The practicalities of drafting
This session examined how legislation is drafted in practice, from the policy stage through to the drafting stage and then to the parliamentary stage.  We looked at Thornton’s five stages of the drafting process, the iterative nature of drafting, the preparation of instructions, the role of the drafter, and drafting and the rule of law.

Learning Methods

Three learning methods were used.  Firstly, traditional didactic lectures.  Secondly, less formal seminars with participation sought from learners.  Thirdly, practical drafting exercises carried out by the learners.

Outcome from the Training:

  1. Participants had a good understanding of the criteria for good quality legislation and developed a sense of where problems arise with badly drafted legislation.
  2. Participants had a broad understanding of the challenge of drafting good legislation and learnt how to develop their drafting and interpretation skills.





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