For instance, consider the

Housing (tenancy deposits) (prescribed information) order 2007

(Which reads quite naturally just strung sequentially together).

Or the

Torts (interference with goods) act 1977

Which is more troublesome.

Or, the

Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2016.

How should these less natural names be pronounced, as they sound incoherent when one cannot visually see the parentheses, and: what is the purpose of naming it this way, when it could much more naturally be named the "Fitness of Homes for Human Habitation Act," or the "Residential Fitness for Human Habitation Act."

On the other hand, the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 reads together quite naturally in its natural sequential order.

Why not just make more uniformly natural, coherent, and undisjointed names for laws in the first place instead of stringing together multiple incoherent separate fragments with parenthesised elements?

  • 2
    Also: Use of parentheses/brackets in legal titles
    – user35069
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 6:37
  • 1
    @Greendrake the first item on the topic list is "statutes," and furthermore English Language Learners is an unlikely venue for this question since that site is for people learning English as a foreign language. The question concerns the use of parentheses in a specialized context so it should be asked and answered in a forum that focuses on that context, namely here at Law.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 9:29
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    @phoog The point is that the use of parentheses in this specialized context is no different from how they are used elsewhere. How to use them is general knowledge pertaining to the language, not law.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 9:46
  • 1
    I think it is fair to ask in this forum because while it happens to be the case here that just ordinary English pronunciation of a type that is a bit esoteric applies in this case, there are plenty of cases in specialized legal language where ordinary English rules do not apply. Similarly, for example, in legal citation in American legal English, "et seq" is normally pronounced in legal language with the "seq" pronounced as if it was a proper word even though it is an abbreviation.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 22:52
  • 1
    @Seekinganswers "Et seq. is the abbreviation of a range of Latin phrases, all deriving from the Latin verb sequor, which means to follow. These include the singular form “et sequitur” (the one thing following) and the plural form “et sequentes” or “et sequentia” (for the several things following). Et seq. means “and the following” and denotes a list or series of items that continues from the item cited just prior to the “et seq.” abbreviation." law.cornell.edu/wex/et_seq It is used to cite a statute of multiple sections by the citation to the first section of the statute.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 16:14

2 Answers 2


Put a comma sized pause whenever ( or ) appears in the written text and also between the words and the year even if the year is not offset by parenthesis.

So when you are reading it aloud, you would say:

Housing comma-sized-pause tenancy deposits comma-sized-pause prescribed information comma-sized-pause order comma-sized-pause 2007

If you want another written representation:

Housing, tenancy deposits, prescribed information, order, 2007

If you wanted to get really fancy and precise, the phrase "tenancy deposits" and the phrase "prescribed information" would also be spoken with an ever so slightly elevated but hushed or breathy pitch relative to "Housing", "order" and "2007" which might be pronounced a bit more "firmly."

You could also say that the accents in the phrase fall on "Housing", "order" and "2007" while "tenancy deposits" and "prescribed information" are unaccented.


Legally, nothing

Grammatically they mean what parenthesis always mean, that the parenthesised words are less important i.e. parenthetical.

Organisationally they serve to group legislation together. This is particularly common in regulations and other subordinate legislation where the tradition is that the regulation takes the name of the Act it is created under. Where there is more than one, the specific function of the regulation is put in parentheses. For heavily legislated areas, like Housing, some parliaments do the same thing for Acts.

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