Understanding citations – LEGISLATION


  1. UK Parliament statutes

Statutes prior to 1963

Each piece of legislation passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom is known as an Act of Parliament. In the citation of the Act, the number(s) before the letters represents the years of the reign of the monarch during which the relevant parliamentary session was held. Parliamentary sessions did not coincide with calendar years, and usually they spanned more than one calendar year.

For example


The citation here means that The Railways (Extension Time) Act is the 18th Act passed during the session that started in the 31st year of the reign of Victoria and which finished in the 32nd year of that reign.

Modern statutes (since 1963)

Each modern Act of Parliament commences with a ‘Short Title’, which is a relatively brief name almost invariably used to identify the Act. The Short Title also includes the year of enactment. This is followed by a chapter number, which denotes the sequential number of the Act in the calendar year.

For example


The citation means that the Human Rights Act was the 42nd Act of Parliament passed in the year 1998.

2. Scottish Parliament statutes

The Scotland Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 2012 guarantee the power to the Scottish Parliament to create their own legislation in certain fields. Acts of the Scottish Parliament commence with a ‘Short Title’ (usually containing the word ‘Scotland’ in brackets and the year of enactment) followed by the acronym ‘asp’ (which stands for ‘Act of the Scottish Parliament’) and a number  (which increases consecutively from number 1 with each Act in the calendar year).

For example


This citation means that the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act was the 1st Act of the Scottish Parliament passed in the year 2016.


  1. UK Statutory Instruments 

The most familiar type of delegated legislation is the Statutory Instrument (SI). Statutory Instruments in the UK are centrally registered and issued with a number which resumes from ‘No. 1’ at the start of each calendar year.

For example


2. Scottish Statutory Instruments

Each Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) made by the Scottish Government is in essentially the same form as the UK Statutory Instruments although cited using the prefix ‘SSI’. They are separately numbered, with the numbering resuming from ‘No. 1’ at the start of each calendar year.

For example


If you have any questions or need assistance, please visit the library or email us.

Taylor Library Team






Law subject resources – Public Information Online


© UK Parliament

Every law student knows the law databases very well. We do not need to introduce Westlaw, Lexis Library or HeinOnline to you. But, did you know that there are other useful databases which can help your studies and research? One of them is Public Information Online (PIO).

PIO is a full text database which provides access to Parliamentary publications from the Westminster Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, National Assembly for Wales and Scottish Government. It also contains Non-Parliamentary material.

You can find all kinds of official publications through the database whether you want to track a Bill, read a debate in Hansard, find a Command Paper or read an overview of an Act. PIO allows you to see any UK Act dating back to 1988 and it’s amending Statutory Instruments.

One of PIO’s best known features is a directory, Civil Service Yearbook for detailed information on the structure, department and key personnel of the Civil Service of all central and devolved governments.

Online access to PIO database is available through Primo. Please login to Primo at the top right corner of the screen first, then on Primo Advanced Search, click on the ‘Find Databases‘ tab, and select letter ‘P‘ for Public Information Online.  If you are working from home, and you were presented with an authentication page, simple login with your university username and password, and start your search.

For more information, please read our Official Publications library guide or visit us in the Taylor Library.

Taylor Library Team

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Charlotte Square during the Edinburgh International Book Festival

This is an excellent opportunity to get a break from your studies. For those of you who are finishing your postgraduate courses during the summer and being busy with dissertations and deadlines, there is a chance to relax and enjoy life, while still staying intellectually focused.

If you visit Edinburgh between 13 – 29 August, you can celebrate the power of words at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with thousands of other festival goers. Nick Barley (the  Director of the Festival) explains that “the theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Project No Fear’. It’s about encouraging and celebrating the sort of courageous, positive, creative thinking that we desperately need in order to make the world a better place for everyone, rather than just for a privileged few.”

The Festival offers events for both adults and children. Please browse the themes of the programme here, there is really plenty to listen to, look at and read. Let’s finish this post with Fiona Hyslop’s words, who is Cabinet Secretary  for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs at the Scottish Government:  “Since 1983, the Edinburgh International Book Festival has been bringing together some of the world’s finest authors and the best of contemporary Scottish talent. This year’s programme is sure to capture and excite audiences.”

Taylor Library Team


Two new Scottish Government consultations on the subject of inheritance and property

Fittie hoose

An Aberdeen property. © Copyright Les Hamilton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

These two recent consultation papers from the Scottish Government may be of interest to anyone studying succession.

Consultation on the Law of Succession:

This consultation paper, seeks views on recommendations the Scottish Law Commission made in their 2009 Report on Succession.

Issues considered are:

  • Where there is no will
  • Protection for disinheritance
  • Provisions for cohabitants.

The consultation documents are available on the Scottish Government website.

Consultation on the draft bill on Prescription and Title to Moveable Property:

This consultation seeks views on recommendations by the Scottish Law Commission in their 2012 Report on Prescription and Title to Moveable Property.

Issues considered are:

  • Allowing someone possessing an object in good faith to become the owner after 20 years
  • Allowing someone who has a lent or deposited object become the owner after 50 years if no owner can be traced

The consultation documents are available on the Scottish Government website

New look Public Information Online website

The Public Information Online website has recently been re-designed. The site is a one stop shop for information from Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland and the Welsh assemblies. The people at PIO have recently produced some new promotional material too. Have a look at their video:

…and their brochure for more information.

Ross McClure

Senior Information Assistant
Taylor Library and EDC (European Documentation Centre)
University of Aberdeen


Scottish Government testing prototype website

The Scottish Government is currently testing how it presents information online. They have chosen to test the topic of “Law Order and Public Safety”. The prototype site is available at: https://alpha.scotland.gov.uk/government/topics/law-order-public-safety and it will run from now until the end of February. There is a feedback form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/website-prototype.

Posted on behalf of Alison Steed (a.steed@abdn.ac.uk)
Principal Information Assistant
European Documentation Centre