American laws seem to be named as, for example, the Trade Act of 2002, while British Acts of Parliament seem to use the same naming convention, except without the word "of" preceding the year?

Did American legislation ever follow the British naming convention of today? Or did British legislation ever use "of" like the US still does? If so, when and what can the changes be traced to?


1 Answer 1


The naming conventions for legislation in the United States and the United Kingdom have evolved over time and have undergone various changes and adaptations. It is difficult to pinpoint a specific time when the naming conventions for legislation in the two countries diverged, as the process has likely been a gradual one.

In general, the United States and the United Kingdom both have a long history of using names or titles to identify and refer to legislation. In the United States, legislation is typically given a short and descriptive title, such as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" or the "Sarbanes-Oxley Act." In the United Kingdom, legislation is often referred to by its short title, which may include the year in which it was enacted, such as the "Companies Act 2006" or the "Bribery Act 2010."

These naming conventions have evolved over time and have been influenced by a variety of factors, including changes in the political and legal systems of the two countries. It is likely that the naming conventions for legislation in the United States and the United Kingdom will continue to evolve and change in the future.

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    "legislation is often referred to by its long title": those are the short titles. The long title for the Companies Act 2006 is "An Act to reform company law and restate the greater part of the enactments relating to companies; to make other provision relating to companies and other forms of business organisation; to make provision about directors' disqualification, business names, auditors and actuaries; to amend Part 9 of the Enterprise Act 2002; and for connected purposes." Dec 9, 2022 at 20:55
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    As I possible reference point, the laws establishing the framework of U.S. securities regulation are commonly known as the "1933 Securities Act" and the "1934 Securities Exchange Act", in a manner similar to modern British practice but with the year of enactment before rather than after the title of the act. Similarly, the statute that is foundational for federal civil procedure is the "1789 Judiciary Act." But another statutory section enacted at the same time within that statute is also known separately as the "All Writs Act."
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 9, 2022 at 22:55
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    @ohwilleke Google reports 28,800 results for "1934 securities exchange act" and 5,560,000 for "securities exchange act of 1934". For "judiciary act of 1789" the figure is 197,000 vs. 6,330 for "1789 judiciary act."
    – phoog
    Dec 9, 2022 at 23:56

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