Explanatory Notes to Act of Parliament [from Print source using OSCOLA]


Explanatory Notes, although issued by the Office of Public Sector Information in conjunction with Acts of Parliament, categorically state:
They do not form part of the Act and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

Therefore, for referencing puropses, they should be treated as secondary sources rather than as legislation. They could however be treated as an indication of the intention behind the legislation and the courts have been prepared to consider Explanatory Notes for a number of purposes when construing and applying legislation.

Standard Form

As a footnote:

Explanatory Notes to the Title of Act Year, paragraph/s number/s (i.e. para/s)if required.


Explanatory Notes to the Banking Act 2009, paras 14, 16.

Explanatory Notes to the Children and Adoption Act 2006, paras 3-4.

Explanatory Notes to the Terrorism Act 2000, para 6.

Reference List

List Explanatory Notes alphabetically by author's name  (Government Department usually mentioned in first paragraph of the introduction) under the heading Secondary Sources.


  • Any use of the title of an Act should remain capitalised as in the original.
  • You may pinpoint your references to Explanatory Notes by page number, or by internal numbering of the document, but it is best to stick consistently with one or the other in order not to confuse your reader.
  • Reference: Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, OSCOLA: Oxford Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities (4th edn Oxford University 2010) 25.