We have currently a debate at the Wikidata Project Chat about whether the term ordonnance (the idea that it's equivalent to the German word Verordnung) and the term statutory instrument have the same legal meaning.

Is the meaning the same? Is one a subclass of the other?

  • 1
    Whatever conclusion you come to, ordinance would be more recognized, unless you are referring specifically to French law; see this definition. Nov 24, 2017 at 12:54
  • 1
    Neither term, spelled like those terms are, have a well defined meaning in American law.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 23, 2018 at 4:29

1 Answer 1


In UK law, a "statutory instrument" is a particular class of legislation defined in section 1 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. This envisages broadly three forms: Orders in Council made by the Crown; rules made by ministers where the power conferred is exercisable by "statutory instrument"; similarly for Welsh ministers.

In other words, most statutory instruments are statutory instruments because the legislation conferring powers on a minister to make them say that they are. There's no default. It is possible to confer powers on a minister which are exercisable without being an SI (though I cannot think of any examples of this).

I believe that there are some statutory powers to make SI's conferred outside the 1946 Act to parts of local government.

As I understand it, an Ordonnance (a French word) refers to a form of French legislation of a specific kind, whereas almost anything could be done by SI. Some SI's might amend Acts of Parliament; others might directly implement EU legislation; others might simply set speed limits or tolls on the Humber Bridge.

The point here is that SI's are a means of numbering and indexing legislation. That is all. An SI is not a particular class of rule having a particular status. The consequences of being an SI are essentially being given a number.

So I think it would be confusing to conflate the two ideas.

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