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Explanatory Material: Part 1—The revision process

Request for submissions»
Explanatory material: Introduction»
Part 1—The revision process
Part 2—The exposure draft Bill»
Part 3—Nature of drafting changes»
Part 4—Issues noted for possible future reform»


 The Legislation Act 2012 introduced a mechanism for systematically revising the presentation of some New Zealand Acts to make them more accessible.  After Acts have been revised, they will be introduced as revision Bills into Parliament for re-enactment.

Subpart 3 of Part 2 of the Legislation Act 2012 sets out the revision powers that can be applied and the revision process.

A revision programme must be presented to the House of Representatives for each new Parliament.  Each revision programme lists the Acts that may be revised over the corresponding three-year parliamentary term.

1.1 Revision: purpose and powers

Revision allows us to update selected New Zealand Acts to make them more accessible, readable, and easy to understand.  Revision can change the form of the legislation but not its substantive legal effect.

The revision powers are set out in section 31(2) of the Legislation Act 2012.  Revision Bills may be used to:

  • combine or divide Acts or parts of Acts
  • create a new Title
  • omit redundant and spent provisions
  • renumber and rearrange provisions
  • update the drafting style and format, and generally express better the spirit and meaning of the law
  • include new purpose or overview provisions and examples, diagrams, and other devices to aid accessibility and readability
  • correct typographical, punctuation, and grammatical errors.

A revision Bill will not contain policy changes because it can only make minor changes to the effect of the law as allowed under section 31(2)(i) and (j) of the Legislation Act 2012.  This section does allow a revision Bill to:

  • make minor amendments to clarify Parliament’s intent, or reconcile inconsistencies between provisions
  • update monetary amounts for Consumers Price Index changes (other than jurisdiction amounts, or offences or penalties) or provide for amounts to be set out in an Order in Council.

1.2 Revision programme and consultation

The PCO is responsible for preparing revision programmes in consultation with the government departments that administer the legislation.

1.3 Current revision programme

The revision programme for the 52nd Parliament was published for comment between 12 December 2017 and 26 January 2018 and, after being approved by the Government, presented to the House of Representatives on 4 April 2018. 

1.4 Next steps

When the consultation period has closed and submissions have been analysed, the Bill will be finalised for presentation to the revision Bill certifiers under section 33 of the Legislation Act 2012.

The certifiers are:

  • retired High Court Judge the Hon John Priestley CNZM, QC
  • President of the Law Commission the Hon Sir Douglas White, QC
  • Solicitor-General Una Jagose, QC
  • Chief Parliamentary Counsel Fiona Leonard.

They must be satisfied that:

  • the revision powers set out in section 31 of the Legislation Act 2012 have been exercised appropriately; and
  • the revision Bill does not change the effect of the law except as authorised by section 31(2)(i) or (j) of the Act.

The certifiers may require the Bill to be changed before certifying it for the Attorney-General as ready for introduction into Parliament.  The Bill is expected to be introduced in late 2018.

There is a streamlined parliamentary process for revision Bills because they do not contain any element of new policy and they do not make substantive changes to the law.  The process is set out in Standing Order 271 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives. 

Next: Part 2—The revision process »

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