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UK Law

Law making


Pre-Legislative material

  • Parliamentary debates
  • Government
    • Green papers, consultation paper
    • White papers, law proposal

Commons Library, Lords Library and Parliamentary Office Science and Technology

Passage of a Bill

Click on the image on the right to access the interactive guide available on the Parliament website



Primary legislation

Public General Acts

Personal Acts and Local Acts (numerous in the 19th century, both enacted through different Bill procedure)

Delegated legislation

Statutory instruments (EU directives are introduced in UK law via SI)


Books available in GSM London Library

Statutes on online legal databases

Lexis Library

Westlaw UK

Historical background

The United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the former European Union, on 1st January 1973 with the entry into force of the European Communities Act on 17th October 1972 (the original version of the Act).

By adhering to the EEC, UK bound itself to the acquis communautaire, the cumulative body of primary and secondary legislation which constitutes the legal skeleton of this supranational Institution.

Treaties are the starting point for EU law and are known in the EU as primary law. The body of law that comes from the principles and objectives of the treaties is known as secondary law; and includes regulations (directly applied in the legal system of the Member States), directives (which require the transposition into national law), decisions, recommendations and opinions.

Primary Legislation

Secondary Legislation

How to find EU Legislation?

All EU legislation is available for consultation in the EUR-Lex website. Legal texts can be searched by quick and advanced search options or via CELEX identifier. Watch the corresponding videos below to get the most from these tools. Additionally, you can also follow the e-learning module of two hours to familiarise with the main feature of the website.

Quick search.

This search option is the one you see when landing to the homepage

of the EUR-Lex website.

Advanced search.

Watch the video to see the features of the EUR-Lex Advanced search

form and how you can use it to find EU documents.

CELEX identifier.

This is the unique code that is assigned to each legal document,

law-case, preparatory acts and working documents.

Part of UK legislation is passed to comply with obligations arising from the ratification of international treaties and bilateral agreements.

Information on current international instruments signed by the United Kingdom could be found on the UK Treaty Online UKTO website. 

The database provides access to international treaties, exchange of notes and bilateral agreements currently in force.

The United Nations Treaty Collection website contains a glossary related to Treaty actions: UNTC -Glossary of terms relating to Treaty actions.
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