Statute (Act) of the Scottish Parliament [from Electronic source using APA 5th ed.]


Because the situation regarding legal references is complex, and only US law is covered in the APA Manual, the following guidance is based on the system recommended by the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies. It should not be followed by any student submitting work to the Law Department of Portsmouth Business School, and students working in other departments should consult their lecturers.

The text of electronic and print versions will be identical, therefore there is no need to give details of the origin of the source you have used.

When using legislation in your work you must be certain as to whether or not you are dealing with the law as it was passed by Parliament initially, or the law as in force currently.

When looking at legislation online, you should rely on trusted sources such as The Office of Public Sector Information or the British and Irish Legal Information Institute. However, these sites give the law as it was passed and do not reflect repeals and amendments. Even the Statute Law Database is currently only up to date as far as 2002 with its amendments. It is better to use a database such as Lexis Library or Westlaw as you will find that the text you are looking at is consolidated and includes amendments and repeals to within the last month. This means you will be looking at the law as in force.

Standard Form

Acts of Parliament are not included in reference lists at all. However, if you wish to adopt a consistent policy throughout and are using one source for all your references a rider in your bibligraphy could clarify the fact that you have used an electronic source for law and what type of source it is.

e.g. All statutes cited are as passed and references are taken from [title e.g. British and Irish Legal Information Institute] website.

or All statutes referred to are as currently in force and have been sourced from the [name e.g. Westlaw] database.

or a similar statement. Having done this the first citation of any act retrieved from a website would be cited in full as follows:

Short title as printed on cover of the act (including capitalisation as shown but with no italicization) Date (NB in the case of older acts this may be a regnal rather than a calendar date)

N.B. No comma should appear between the word Act and the date. As the text will be identical in both electronic (whatever format) and hardcopy and pinpoint references rely on internal numbering rather than page numbers it is unnecessary to identify the specific format in your citation.

Thereafter the short title or an accepted / recognised abbreviation of it can be used without the date, if there is no cause for confusion.

If you choose to abbreviate an Act's title by using initials you must show this when you first mention the Act and give the full reference in your citation,

e.g. Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 [HASWA] could thereafter be referred to as HASWA.

The main aim in any citation is for clarity.


In the case of Scottish statutes the word Scotland is normally included in brackets in the short title unless the Act is obviously a local one.

Erskine Bridge Tolls Act 2001

Edinburgh Tram (Line One) Act 2006

Local Government in Scotland Act 2003


Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005

Education (School Meals) (Scotland) Act 2003

Citation in Text

When citing in text you need to pinpoint your specific reference within the act. Rather than use page numbers it is often easier to use the internal numbering of the act itself.

... regulated according to section 26 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001.

Clearly s 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 makes it an offence to ...

If you want to refer to several sections at the same time then, for example, write

Referrals under sections 2-4 the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 are ...

... investigations under ss 3-5 of the Scottish Public Ombudsman Act 2002 ...

In case of amended legislation make the exact source quite clear, for example

Section 59 (2) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, as amended by the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000, states ...


  • Prior to the Act of Union in 1707 Scots Acts may be cited by their short title where one exists.
  • If there is any chance of confusion it is important that you make it absolutely clear to your reader which country's law you are referring to. In such cases it is clearer to precede acts with a designation to clarify the jurisdiction, e.g. Scotland Leases Act 1449