Enactment may be defined as:

  • the process (the act of enacting, to change into law of a document) by which an act, statute or regulation is agreed upon and made official (by being given the Royal assent or otherwise passed) by a legislative branch of government or law-making body (Parliament, Government, Administrative body), or as
  • a general term for a statute or Act of Parliament, statutory instrument, by-law or other a law that is passed (enacted). Enact means to make a text or document into law, or to establish something by a piece of legislation. It is in this last sense what this entry is about (more below).

A text of rules which is published as enforceable is said to be enacted.

In some jurisdictions, the mere announcement of a change in a piece of legislation may have the effect, in those countries, of enactment, even if all the formalities required by the national legislative process have yet to take place. In other countries this is not the case.

The Parliament or similar law-making body has responsibilities which transcend the process of enactment of pieces of legislation.

See Enacting clause and Enactment remedial.

Enactment Meaning in Canada

As stated by the Canada’s Interpretation Act, which provides rules for the interpretation of legislation, “enactment” has a wide meaning in Canada, including an Act or regulation or any portion of an Act or regulation. French: texte. The same definition is provided by art. 1 of the British Columbia (Canada) Interpretation Act. In article 33, “A reference in an enactment to regulations is a reference to regulations made under the enactment in which the reference occurs.”An enactment that is repealed and replaced ceases to have effect at the time (at the end of the day on which it expires) a new enactment commences. If has expired or ceased to have effect, then is deemed to be repealed.

In the Canadian case Wilkin v. White, Justice Bouck said that enactment included a municipal by-law. Similarly, Master Horn of Nanaimo defined this legal term:”… the common meaning of enactment (is) any document which enacts a law… a thing which is enacted; an ordinance, a statute.”(Re Roberts case)

Distinctions. Enactment into Law

This entry is not about the process or “enactment”of a statute, act or regulation. It is mainly about the scope of enactments in case law and legislation .

Enactment has not to be confused with Coming into force, since an Act, statute or regulation does not necessarily come into force on being “enacted”or passed. In Canada and other countries, if an enactment that is not in force contains provisions conferring power to make regulations, or to do any other thing, to make the enactment effective on its coming into force, the power may be exercised before the enactment comes into force, but the regulation or the thing done has no effect until the enactment comes into force, except in so far as is necessary to make the enactment effective on its coming into force. In Canada, if an enactment is expressed to come into force on proclamation, judicial notice must be taken of the issue of the proclamation.

English Case Law

In Wakefield Light Railways Company v Wakefield Corporation, Ridley J. decided that “enactment does not mean the same thing as “Act.””Act”means the whole Act, whereas a section or part of a section in an Act may be an enactment.”Judge Roache LJ, in the case Postmaster General v Birmingham Corporation, was “unable to accept the ingenious argument that the word “enactment”in”section 7 of the Telegraph Act 1878 “refers to special or ad hoc enactments dealing with specific works and does not refer to general enactments . . . No such limitation upon the word “enactment”is expressed, and in my judgement none can or should be implied.”

Enactment and Regulations in the English Legal System

“No enactment of man can be considered law unless it conforms to the law of God.”, William Blackstone

In general, in comparative law, “enactment”include laws (Acts and Statutes) and regulations. For example, an ‘enactment’ is defined by of the New Zealand Interpretation Act 1999 (section 29) as the whole or a portion of an Act or regulations.

In England and Wales, in the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 the expression “enactment”includes “an enactment contained in a local Act or in any order, regulation or other instrument having effect by virtue of an Act.”Similarly, In the Education (Work Experience) Act of 1973, the word “enactment”included any byelaw, regulation or other provision.

However, for English judge Ashworth J, in “some contexts the word “enactment”may include within its meaning not only a statute but also a statutory regulation but, as it seems to me, the word does not have that wide meaning in”the English Road Traffic Act 1960. “On the contrary, the language used in a number of instances strongly suggests that in this particular Act the draftsman was deliberately distinguishing between an enactment and a statutory regulation: see, for example, section 267 and Schedule 18.”[Rathbone v Bundock]. Similarly, the English Criminal Law Act of 1977 (section 31), “enactment”does not include an enactment contained in an order, regulation or other instrument made under an Act. In the Channel Tunnel Act of 1987, the Finance Act of 1998 (section 163) and the Welfare Reform Act of 2009 (Part 2), the expression “enactment”only include “Acts”.


See Also

Explanatory Provision
United States Style Codes
Acts Structure

Further Reading

‘The enactment is self-explanatory … or is it?’—Explanatory Provisions in New Zealand Legislation. Ross Carter et al. Statute Law Review, Volume 28, Issue 1, Pp. 1-33.



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