Styles of Legislation and Their Effects

Statute Law Review , Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 38–53, 2011

16 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2010 Last revised: 17 Mar 2011

See all articles by Wim J. M. Voermans

Wim J. M. Voermans

Leiden University - Leiden Law School

Date Written: August 23, 2010


This paper discusses legislative styles, a hitherto understudied aspect of legislation. Style is defined as at the way legislation is composed. Three components are indicative for style of legislation and these are the wording and phraseology (general use of language, definitions, terminology, etc.), the structure (physical structure of the parts and elements, ways of referencing, relation and hierarchy between legislative documents, etc.) and the legal-cultural identity (constitutional context, legal system, legal family – e.g. common law or civil law – tradition, pedigree) of legislative texts. On the basis of a survey different styles of legislation from countries within and outside the EU are compared and assessed. The paper argues that style of legislation does matter as regards the overall accessibility, compliance, implementability and interpretation of legislation as well as the correspondence between domestic and EU or international legislation, especially when it comes down to the implementation or transposition thereof. Style – so it is argued – also determines the chances of transferability of legislative solutions.

Keywords: Legislation, Legislative Drafting, Style, Common Law, Civil Law, International Drafting, Multilingual Drafting

Suggested Citation

Voermans, Wim, Styles of Legislation and Their Effects (August 23, 2010). Statute Law Review , Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 38–53, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Wim Voermans (Contact Author)

Leiden University - Leiden Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 9520
2300 RA Leiden, NL-2300RA

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