The aim of legislation

The overall aim of legislation is to regulate relationships between legal persons (i..e. those recognised by law as capable of carrying legal rights) and, in doing so, “to secure some benefit to some person or class of persons”.

The methods of securing benefits

There are two alternative ways of securing benefits:

  1. confer an appropriate right, privilege or power directly upon the person or class of persons that is to benefit; or 
  2.  impose an obligation or liability upon a different person or class, so that a corresponding benefit results, indirectly, in favour of the person or class that is to benefit. 

 The basic structure of a legislative sentence Typically, 

a legislative sentence should provide specifically for one or other of these alternatives, but not both, since express provision of one normally gives rise to the other by implication. But “no single sentence in a law can do anything else than one or both of these.”

The functions of the legislative sentence Typically,

 a legislative sentence, as well as defining one of the necessary elements of the relationship between persons or classes by these means, should:(a) prescribe the limits to the stated right, privilege, power, or duty and liability; and (b) designate the circumstances in which it arises and the conditions under which it operates.

Example Box 1

Consider this simple legislative sentence:

Where a court awards the custody of a child over the age of 14 years to any grandparent of the child, that grandparent is liable to maintain the child until the child reaches the age of 18 years or unless the child is in full-time employment. The rule confers a benefit upon certain children by imposing a liability on their grandparents. The sentence also determines when the liability arises and when it ceases, by stating the circumstances and conditions in which the rule operates.

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The aim of legislation

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