Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong
A Guide to Styles and Practices

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Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong

“Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong — A Guide to Styles and Practices” is a collection of guidelines for drafting Hong Kong laws. It has been compiled by counsel of the Law Drafting Division of the Department of Justice, who draft all Government legislation.
The Guide provides a useful insight into the styles and practices used to draft Government Bills and subsidiary legislation. It is informative and practical and explains drafting styles and practices in general terms, illustrating them with hundreds of examples. It provides valuable guidelines on drafting issues from the arrangement of provisions to writing in plain language. Among the many questions it answers are—
  • How are Hong Kong’s laws structured?
  • How do you draft in gender-neutral language?
  • Should you use “shall” or “must” to impose an obligation in legal writing?
  • What is the form of an offence provision?

Understanding the considerations that go into the design and writing of legislation enhances access to the law. With this in mind, the Guide aims to facilitate a clearer understanding of the law by statute users and to promote uniformity in drafting practices across both government and non-government legislation in Hong Kong.

The Guide was published by the Department of Justice in June 2012. Because of the launch of Hong Kong e-Legislation (HKeL) in February 2017 (accessible at http://www.elegislation.gov.hk), contents of the publication may temporarily not be up-to-date insofar as they relate to the publication of consolidated legislation. If you wish to learn more about HKeL, please see “What is Hong Kong e-Legislation” and “FAQ”.

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Comments on the Guide may be sent to:  ldd@doj.gov.hk.

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