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Online legislation’s official status, one step closer

The Legislation (Official Versions) Regulations 2013 SR 2013/243 which came into force on 5 August 2013 are part of a number of significant changes to official legislation pursuant to the Legislation Act 2012.

The Explanatory Note for SR 2013/243 says “the regulations provide that the New Zealand Coat of Arms is the distinguishing feature of official versions of legislation issued by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel under the Legislation Act 2012. Another familiar feature may also appear on official versions of legislation, namely, a statement to the effect that the legislation is issued under the authority of the New Zealand Government or the Legislation Act 2012”.

The regulations don't in themselves make the content of the NZ Legislation website an official source of legislation. While the Chief Parliamentary Counsel  now has the power to issue official electronic versions of legislation, the electronic version will become official only when the Chief Parliamentary Counsel formally issues the versions of official legislation. A statement to this effect will appear on the NZ Legislation website, the PCO website, and elsewhere. The PCO advises that the Chief Parliamentary Counsel does not yet have a fixed date for this to occur as they are still confirming the accuracy of the result of an officialisation project.  Advance notice of this change is expected late 2013 or early in 2014. 

The Legislation Act 2012 also introduces different terminology for secondary legislation.  What we know as a “Regulation" or a "Statutory regulation" is to be called a "Legislative instrument".

"Legislative Instrument" is defined in section 4 of the Act and can include Orders in Council, regulations, rules, notices, determinations, proclamations, and warrants.
"Other Instruments" will be used to describe what were previously known as "deemed regulations".

References to “Legislative Instruments” will be abbreviated to "LI" - for example, LI 2014/37 rather than SR 2014/37. However the new terminology will not be implemented until 1 January 2014 “to allow a clean changeover in reference numbering”.

The PCO advises that the changes will not affect how individual documents are named, so for example, the Family Courts Rules 2002 and the Building Regulations 1992 still retain the same names, but to find them on the New Zealand Legislation website you will need to search under “Legislative Instruments” rather than Regulations.

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Last updated on the 3rd June 2015