Guidance on instructing Counsel: common legislative solutions

This guidance is intended to help officials to develop policy and produce instructions for primary legislation of certain commonly occurring types.


Andy Beattie, Chief Parliamentary Counsel

By Andy Beattie, Chief Parliamentary Counsel

As the legislative drafting office for the Scottish Government, Parliamentary Counsel Office strives to produce first-class legislation: clear, effective, accessible law which will serve the people of Scotland well.

Having drafted all of the Scottish Government’s Bills since the advent of devolution, we are always looking to share our knowledge of legislation with others who take an interest in how it is made. That is why I was delighted, on behalf of the Scottish Government, to support the UK-wide initiative to develop this guidance.

Its genesis is in work undertaken by the National Archives to research patterns which occur in legislation: in other words, common legislative solutions to policy questions or problems which occur frequently.

So where legislation is being developed in those commonly recurring areas, we hope that this guidance will act as a useful tool to enable the best possible quality of Bill instructions to be provided to counsel – allowing us in turn both to deliver for our Ministers more efficiently and effectively and to help users of legislation by making it more consistent.

This guidance has been produced in collaboration between members of each of the four legislative drafting offices in the UK, who have consulted officials across all four administrations in refining it: solicitors, policy officials and drafters alike. It represents an excellent example of civil service collaboration, exemplifying principles of mutual respect and cooperation in the carrying out of one of our most essential public functions, the instruction and creation of good law.

We would welcome suggestions and feedback on this guidance from all those who take an interest in legislation as we work to continuously improve the quality of Scotland’s law.

As with Drafting Matters!, our drafting manual published in 2016, we hope that publishing this guidance on instructing legislation will help to make the process more transparent and accessible – not just to those working within government, but to the wider public.

Andy Beattie
Chief Parliamentary Counsel


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