Parliamentary Counsel

Parliamentary Counsel

Parliamentary Counsel

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Parliamentary counsel are lawyers who prepare legislation that it is proposed to pass into law. The term Parliamentary draftsman (or draughtsman) is also widely used. These terms are used in relation to the United Kingdom parliament, and other parliaments on the Westminster system. The official title, and organization, of the parliamentary counsel varies between legislatures. For example, those who draft government legislation for the UK parliament form the Parliamentary Counsel Office (established in 1869 under the title of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel) while the Office of the Scottish Parliamentary Counsel drafts legislation for the Scottish Parliament, the Office of the Legislative Counsel drafts legislation for the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Office for the Welsh Legislative Counsel performs the same role for the Welsh Assembly Government. In the Republic of Ireland, there is an Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to Government. In Australia, each state, territory and the federal government has an Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

The job of a parliamentary draftsman is to draft the detailed form of proposed laws, in a way that will accurately reflect the intentions of the politicians who are promulgating them, without leaving loopholes or producing perverse results. This is an almost impossible task, and the pursuit of exact and watertight legislation has often resulted in obscure and convoluted language. Such language has been criticised both by...
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