Statute (Act) [from Electronic source using OSCOLA]


A statute is also known as an Act of Parliament.

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 clear 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

As a footnote:

Title of Act Year, Section if required.

Abbreviations of sections of statutes are only to be used in footnotes. When referring to a section of a statute in text, pinpoint references should be written in full e.g.

The application of section 15 of the Human Rights Act 1998, in particular sub-section 15(1)(a) has shown that ...

Section 5 of the Licensing Act 2003 states that...

If you are referring to a particular statute a number of times in short succession, it is usually possible to use an abbreviated form of the title in the footnotes, without cross-citation, provided the reader has been warned in advance. The abbreviation is usually the initials of the main words in the title, and should always include the year, e.g.

1Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998), s 4(1).


5HRA 1998, s 8.


Building Act 1984. 

2 Drugs Act 2005, ss 3-8.

Human Rights Act 1998, s 15(1)(a).

Licensing Act 2003, s 5.

5 Mental Health Act 2007.

Welfare Reform Act 2012, ss 11, 15(2).

Reference List

List statutes in alphabetical order under the heading Legislation and subdivide Legislation into Statutes and Statutory Instruments as appropriate.

No full stop is required at the end of an entry in a Reference List as this is a list.



  • It is assumed that legislation referred to is that for the United Kingdom. If this is not the case, indicate jurisdiction after the date e.g. Companies Act 1993 (NZ).
  • In the text, it is acceptable to abbreviate without any prior warning, e.g. the 1998 Act, but only where this short form is sure to be understood.
  • It is assumed that you are referring to the statute as amended, and therefore you do not need to cite the amending statute or state which database you have retrieved the text from.
  • Reference: Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, OSCOLA: Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (4th edn Oxford University 2010) 23-25.