Acts (also called statutes) have a name and date, for example the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA). The name usually reflects the subject matter of the Act and the date indicates the year in which the Act passed through Parliament. Acts also have a number (for example, the Road Traffic Act was No. 50 of 1961 - that is, it was the 50th Act passed in 1961). All of the Acts passed in a particular calendar year are published in books called statute books. Acts can also be amended (changed) by Parliament at any time. Acts of particular jurisdictions may be reprinted. When they are reprinted, the principal (original) Act and all amendments are put together to make an up-to-date copy of the Act. In South Australia, reprints are published each time an Act is amended, unlike Commonwealth legislation which is reprinted only on a needs basis.
Regulations, Rules and by-laws are examples of delegated legislation (also called subordinate legislation), which is so named because Parliament has delegated power to a local council, government department or other body to make further laws under a particular Act. Delegated legislation is often of an administrative nature and may include standard forms and fee information. Regulations (known as statutory rules in the Commonwealth jurisdiction) generally contain material that changes frequently, so it is important that you locate an up-to-date copy.
If you have access to the Internet, you can find South Australian legislation at www. legislation.sa.gov.au and Commonwealth legislation on the Federal Register of Legislation site at https://www.legislation.gov.au/ . Legislation from other jurisdictions can be accessed via the Australasian Legal Information Institute site (www.austlii.edu.au). This information is free of charge, but make sure you take note of when the material for each jurisdiction was last updated, as the legislation may not be completely up-to-date. A subject index to South Australian legislation is available at http://www.alla.asn.au/sa/sisal/sisal.html.
Reading and understanding Acts is not easy; however most are now drafted (written) in simpler terms than they once were. Often an Act will have a Summary of Provisions (like a table of contents) at the front that lists and describes the sections of the Act. Usually there is a definition section near the beginning which explains what is meant by some of the words used in the Act. Some Acts have schedules at the end which may contain tables, forms for court documents, and other important information.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.