How to find local and personal or private acts

Local and personal legislation is complex. This guide is only intended to give you a general overview and is focused on how to find acts in our library.

It is not always clear from the name whether an act is a public, local or personal/private one. Also, over the years the classification and numbering of local and personal legislation has changed for some. Library staff are happy to help you.

Examples of local legislation include acts governing:

  • local government
  • educational establishments
  • specific companies
  • railways
  • canals
  • harbours

Local act chapter numbers are shown in Roman numerals.

Personal (previously called private) acts are now rare and are mostly marriage-enabling and estate acts. In the past they have also covered:

  • enclosures
  • naturalisation
  • divorce

Personal act chapter numbers are shown in italic Arabic numerals.

Finding copies of local legislation

Print

  • Printed copies of the official, definitive text of local acts on the day they received royal assent since 1798 are in Bay 131 onwards
  • Current Law Statutes Annotated includes local legislation as originally printed since 1992 under the section private acts. It can be found in Bay E

Online

  • You can find original, i.e. as enacted, local acts from 1991 onwards at legislation.gov.uk
  • JustisOne has original unamended versions of local acts from 1797
  • Westlaw UK has updated versions of local acts published since 1991, but only selectively
  • LexisLibrary has updated versions of a few local acts, mainly those concerning London

JustisOne, Westlaw UK and LexisLibrary are subscription databases, they are available in the library. Ask staff for access.

Finding local legislation if you know the name of the act

  • Between 1797 and 1995 use the Indexes to the Local and Personal Acts found in Bay N
  • From 1797 onwards use JustisOne
  • From 1991 onwards use Westlaw or legislation.gov.uk

Finding local legislation on a subject

If you do not know the name or the year, use the subject indexes found in Bay N. Alternatively, search by keyword in JustisOne.

Updating local legislation

To find out whether a local act has been amended or repealed, use:

The Chronological Table of Local Legislation

The tables list in date order every local act from 1797, noting repeals and amendments made by public and local acts and statutory instruments. If there is no mention of any repeals or amendments, this does not necessarily mean that the act is unchanged. Often it is wise to contact the relevant local body, particularly local authorities.

The printed version of the Chronological Tables can be found in Bay N, but this is only updated to 2000. Updating using this is complex and involves using many different volumes. Ask library staff if you need help.

An online version is available at legislation.gov.uk. Please note this website is only up-to-date to December 2008.

The Chronological Tables

Cross-check and update beyond 2008 using the Current Law Legislation Citators. Check all volumes but be aware that these are less comprehensive than the Chronological Tables and not complete, as the 2008 volume does not include local acts repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Acts 2008 and 2013.

Westlaw UK

Use for an updated version if the act is later than 1991.

Halsbury’s Statutes

These include the texts of a few local statutes in force as amended, mainly concerning London, in the Ports and Shipping and the Local Government volumes. These can be found in Bay 61.

Statute Law (Repeals) Acts of 2008 and 2013

These repealed many local acts relating to railways, roads, London and benevolent institutions such as hospitals, schools and charities.

Pre-1797 legislation

The local act series started in 1797. Any legislation before this date will be in either the public series (see our guide to how to find public general acts) or the personal/private act series (see below).

Finding copies of personal/private legislation

Bound volumes covering the period 1700 to 1893 are held in the library stores. Ask staff to get these for you.

Bound volumes covering 1894 onwards are bound with local legislation in Bay 139 onwards.

Finding personal/private legislation if you know the name

For legislation between 1797 and 1995, use the Index to the Local and Personal Acts found in Bay N.

Finding personal/private legislation on a subject

Use the Index to the Local and Personal Acts found in Bay N.

Updating personal/private legislation

Use the Chronological Table of Private and Personal Acts. It lists in date order every personal/private act from 1539, noting repeals and amendments.

An online version is available at legislation.gov.uk. It is updated to December 2008.

The printed version of the tables is in Bay N. This is only updated to 2000.

Personal/private statutes cannot be updated using the Current Law Legislation Citators as they only contain public and local statutes.