Statute (Act) [from Print 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.

A statute is also known as an Act of Parliament.

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.

Standard Form

Statutes are not included in reference lists at all.

However, on the first mention of the act a full citation is given stating:

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

No comma should appear between the word Act and the date.

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 statute's title by using initials you must show this when you first mention the statute 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.


Building Act 1984

Licensing Act 2003

Older Acts might be cited as

Crown Debts Act 1801 (14 Geo 3 c 90)

Citation in Text

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

Clearly section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 makes it an offence to …

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

As sections 6 and 7 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 state ...

As ss 6 and 7 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 state ...

In the case of amended legislation, make the exact source quite clear, e.g.

Section 146 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, as amended by the Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993, states ...


  • If there is any comparative aspect to your work, you need to be exceptionally careful to include the jurisdiction responsible. In the case of Scotland and Northern Ireland this usually appears within the title. Jurisdictions outside the United Kingdom may be specified in this way, but if not, you must make it absolutely clear to your reader which country's law you are referring to e.g. Licensing Act 2003, Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, Licensing Act (Northern Ireland) 1971, Australia Liquor Act 1982 (NSW), Australia Liquor Act 1975 (ACT)