And what is the process like? It seems surprisingly meticulously drafted and most elaborate as to account for every conceivable scenario and counter argument that one might ever encounter or think of. Often it is so meticulous that there are provisions that one can’t make sense of in themselves but once I’ve hears them explained then they actually make perfect sense.

So who’s job is it to consider all of these things? Who went down the housing act and picked all the grounds that would be included in section 8, and then decided what length of notice period would go with each? Not just that, but like all the legislation in general. What is the composition process like? Or, who thought up the scheme that immigration would be out of legal aid in laspo for example, unless it implicated HRA art. 3? Innumerable examples abound by the question is basically the same.

Not sure what tags to give this but please feel free to add any to think might be suitable.

  • I think there is a special office, Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, a body of specialist lawyers, which writes up bills for "the government". I imagine the PM gets to say what the political content is, and this body implements those wishes.
    – user6726
    Apr 11, 2022 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


Parliamentary draftspeople

The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is a group of government lawyers who specialise in drafting legislation. We work closely with departments to translate policy into clear, effective and readable law. Our role will often begin when legislation is first being considered and we will remain involved throughout the Parliamentary process and beyond.

I’m afraid you give them too much credit - most legislation is good, some is bad, a small amount is appalling. In the latter case I place the several newly minted laws I've read where there are such large ambiguities that the only way to work out what's legal is to try something, get sued and have the courts decide - good statutes should leave litigants arguing the facts rather than the law as far as possible.

  • An example IMO is UK tax law - income from £50,270 to £150,000 is taxed at 40%, except income from £100,000 to £125,000 is taxed at 60%. No matter where you stand politically, this is nonsense.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 11, 2022 at 22:32
  • Perhaps the most impressive aspect of it is the sheer level of elaborate detail and work that must go into it. Sometimes things seem even needlessly elaborate Apr 11, 2022 at 22:43
  • There was a question recently about when exactly you start driving under the influence on alcohol. I suppose part of the job would be to write a law so there is no discussion needed and you just read the law. But it’s difficult.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2022 at 8:00
  • Also, most of the current legislation has not been approved in one round. You approve some law, some unexpected effects/ loopholes are found, you amend the legislation (hopefully without creating more loopholes), a new party comes to power and wants to twist the law... rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat...
    – SJuan76
    Apr 12, 2022 at 8:59
  • 1
    @JosephP. I'd argue that many examples of legislation are no more elaborate than a reasonably complex contract that many lawyers work on routinely. When you do that kind of work regularly it becomes rather natural to draft provisions in a way that attempts to cover all possible scenarios and to accurately achieve the outcome that the client is looking for.
    – JBentley
    Apr 13, 2022 at 14:45

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