Finding Local Acts can prove a legal research challenge to even the most experienced of practitioners, but it is something that solicitors in the field of property law will come across from time to time. Based on the many enquiries received by the Law Society Library on this subject, we have compiled a quick guide to Local Acts. For more help, contact the Library.  

What is a Local Act?

Local legislation can affect a particular geographic area, such as a town or city. Often Local Acts are concerned with specific towns, canals, bridges, roads or railways. There used to be lots of Local Acts every year, but these days they are very few in number.

Why might I need to find a Local Act?

Practitioners working in property law may need to be aware of the content of local legislation in a number of scenarios. For instance inclosure acts can still present complications in conveyancing. Local Acts might also be needed for planning matters or resolving disputes related to ownership of property.

How will I recognise a citation for a Local Act?

Often the subject matter of the act will be a big hint that you are looking for a Local Act - if the name of the act refers to a particular town or area then it’s highly likely to be a Local Act.

The real giveaway is the format of the chapter number. Chapter numbers of Local Acts are cited with lower case Roman numerals e.g. Malvern Hills Act 1884 (47 & 48 Vict.) c. clxxv.

Where can I find a Local Act?

Printed versions of the original text of Local Acts are held by the Law Society Library from 1797 onwards. Copies can be obtained via our document delivery service, Lawdocs.

Original, unamended versions of Local Acts from 1991 onwards can be found for free at www.legislation.gov.uk, with some coverage of earlier Local Acts.

The database Justis is a subscription service providing unamended versions of Local Acts from 1797.

Some but not all Local Acts are available in the subscription the databases Westlaw and Lexis Library.

You can also try contacting local libraries and record offices to see if they have copies of acts affecting the local area.

How can I find out if the Local Act has been amended or repealed?

Updated versions of Local Acts are rarely available, so finding out whether they have changed or are still in force has to be done using chronological tables and citators.

You can check for amendments and repeals to Local Acts up to 2008 for free online using the Chronological Table of Local Acts at www.legislation.gov.uk/changes/chron-tables/local.

To update beyond 2008, we use the Current Law Legislation Citators. If you do not have access to these citators, you can ask the Law Society Library staff to check them on your behalf.

What if I still have questions?

If you are stuck on any aspect of finding or updating a Local Act, contact the Law Society Library. Our librarians are able to help solicitors and their staff with this research.

More help is also available in our online research guide to finding Local and Personal/Private Acts.

Disclaimer

This FAQ is compiled by the Law Society Library. Comments relating to the questions should be sent to library@lawsociety.org.uk.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.