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Northern Ireland legislation

Northern Ireland has its own body of primary and secondary legislation.  Find out more about the available sources for Northern Ireland Statutes and Statutory Rules  below.

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About Northern Ireland legislation Databases Print legislation
NI Parliamentary publications   Internet resources

About Northern Ireland legislation
  • Northern Ireland Primary legislation

    The Northern Ireland Statutes are the primary legislation for the jurisdiction. Northern Ireland Statutes can come from a variety of sources.  The table below is a very brief outline of the main sources.
    Acts of the Parliament of Northern Ireland (Stormont ) 1921 -1972
    Orders In Council 1972 -
    Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly 2000 -
    Acts of the United Kingdom Parliament

If you want to find more information on the complex legislative arrangements for Northern Ireland, the House of Commons produces an extremely useful factsheet series covering all aspects of parliamentary procedure and related matters, and includes a factsheet on Northern Ireland legislation.

Don't forget

UK Acts can also apply wholly or in part to Northern Ireland.  You can find out which sections, if any, apply to Northern Ireland by checking the Extent section at the end of each Act. 

  • Northern Ireland Secondary (or delegated) legislation
    Northern Ireland Statutory Rules are the secondary legislation for the jurisdiction. The rules, regulations and orders made by Northern Ireland rule-making authorities were called statutory rules and orders (S.R. & O.s) up to the end of 1973. They are now referred to as Statutory Rules (S.R.s).

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Search Tip:
Database coverage of Northern Ireland legislation is limited.  You may find the freely available Internet resources  the best place to start your search.

You will need Athens authentication to access most library databases.  Use the Passwords Guide to find out more about library passwords.

Remember that if you cannot find the case you need then ask a librarian for help.


Coverage and Service details

UK Statutory Instruments

Orders in Council are available in the UK Statutory Instruments database from 1987 onwards.

Bulletin of Northern Ireland Law

A comprehensive digest of Northern Ireland Law from 1996 with some links to full text material. 

Westlaw UK

You can access the full text of Northern Ireland Orders in Council only (by virtue of their being part of the UK Statutory Instrument series) in the Westlaw database from around 1999 onwards.
From the Welcome screen select UK Legislation and enter the title and date of the Northern Ireland Order in Council eg Criminal Evidence Northern Ireland Order 1999 in the Act or SI name box.

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Print legislation
  • Northern Ireland Statutes
    No matter what constitutional arrangements are in effect, Northern Ireland primary legislation has been collected together in annual volumes to make up a Northern Ireland Statutes series.
    From 1921-1972 the series was called the Public General Acts.  From 1972 onwards they became formally known as the Northern Ireland Statutes.  Acts and Measures of the various Northern Ireland Assemblies are also included in the Northern Ireland Statutes series.

    There are two accompanying volumes to help in tracing Northern Ireland primary legislation:

    Chronological Table of the Statutes Northern Ireland
    A list of all legislation which affects or has affected Northern Ireland since 1310.  Click on the title to check library holdings.

    Index to the Statutes: Northern Ireland 
    The Index to the Statutes Northern Ireland is arranged in subject order.  As well as indexing Northern Ireland legislation it also covers Westminster Acts affecting Northern Ireland. Click on the title to check library holdings.

  • Statutes Revised, Northern Ireland 2nd ed
    Volumes  A-D 1226 - 1920  contain the amended text of all pre-1920 legislation still in force in Northern Ireland.
    Volumes  1-9 1921 - 1981 contain the amended text of Northern Ireland statutes only.
    Please note that United Kingdom Statutes enacted since 1921 which apply in Northern Ireland are not included. The set is updated by an annual Cumulative Supplement which in addition to listing all amendments to legislation in the thirteen volumes of the Statutes Revised, also notes amendments to the Northern Ireland Statutes from 1982 onwards.  
    Don't forget that the up to date version of the Northern Ireland Statutes are freely available on the official UK Statute Law Database.

  • Statutory Rules and Orders of Northern Ireland
    Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland
    The Statutory Rules and Orders of Northern Ireland (S.R.&O.s) commenced publication in 1922.  From 1974 onwards they have been called the Statutory Rules (S.R.s). The Statutory Rules are the delegated or secondary legislation for Northern Ireland. 

    Index to Statutory Rules and Orders Northern Ireland
    The looseleaf Index to the Statutory Rules and Orders is arranged in subject order and is updated each year.
    Use the library catalogue to find library holdings of the Index.

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Northern Ireland Parliamentary Publications

Northern Ireland Hansard

  • Official report of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
    The official report of proceedings of the Northern Ireland Parliament 1921-1972.

  • Debates of the Northern Ireland Assembly
    The Northern Ireland Assembly 1974, and the subsequent Assembly set up under the 1982 Act also produced official reports of their debates.

  • Debates of the Northern Ireland Assembly 1998-
    A full archive of the debates of the current Northern Ireland Assembly is available on the Northern Ireland Assembly website.  Use the legislation section of the UU Guide to Internet Resources to access this and other useful Northern Ireland legal websites.

Northern Ireland parliamentary papers and government publications

  • The library does not have a comprehensive collection of Northern Ireland official publications such as command papers, white papers and records of the proceedings in Parliamentary committees (Standing Committee or Select Committee) although there is a collection of Northern Ireland Assembly (NIA) reports and papers for the periods 1973-4 and 1982-6 available in the journals collection in Jordanstown (shelved at PER 328.416).  However if you have details of an individual government or parliamentary publication then you can still check the library catalogue to see if it is available since many are bought when published and are added to the book stock. As such, each will be catalogued individually and have their own classification number.
  • Maltby, Arthur   The Government of Northern Ireland 1922-1972: a catalogue and breviate of parliamentary papers.
    If you are looking for early Northern Ireland parliamentary papers then you may find this publication a useful starting point.  You can search for papers by broad subject area, by title and by chairman/author.  Once you have found the paper you require use the library catalogue to check if is available in one of the campus libraries.

    More recent parliamentary papers are often published on the internet.  Use the UU Guide to Internet Resources for law for more information on useful Northern Ireland parliamentary and government websites.
  • Bulletin of Northern Ireland Law
    The Bulletin of Northern Ireland Law  is available in print from 1981 and online from 1996.  It includes digests of all new parliamentary papers.

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Internet Resources

Because coverage of Northern Ireland legislation in databases is incomplete it is often best to use the comprehensive, up to date resources which are freely available on the internet.  

  • UK Statute Law Database
    The statute law of Northern Ireland from 1921 onwards currently in force is now available on the official UK Statute Law Database.  This is the best place to start if you wish to find the updated version of a Northern Ireland Statute. The date statutes are revised to is clearly stated at the start of each piece of legislation.
    Important Search Tip: Remember to check the Tables of legislative Effects for details of subsequent amending legislation which has not yet been incorporated into the online text.
  • OPSI Online
    The full text of all Northern Ireland Statutes, as originally enacted (i.e. without updating amendments) have been made available online since 1987.  Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland are also available from 1991.
  • UU Guide to Internet Resources for Law
    You can find out more about the internet resources available for all aspects of Northern Ireland law and government in the Northern Ireland section of the UU Guide.

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Last updated: 07/07/10
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