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Law - Legal research guide: Legislation: 6. Point in time

Find out about acts, delegated legislation, bills, parliamentary documents and extrinsic materials for Australian jurisdictions

Legislation databases

Point-in-time research - CTH Acts

It is sometimes necessary to establish the content of an act at a specific point in time.  For example, for auditing purposes you may need to check which tax rates applied at a certain time in the past, or indeed what the tax law was at the time before the introduction of GST.

This has been variously called the point in time, backdating or historical approach to legislation.  You can use a mixture of print and online resources to update legislation to a particular point in time.

Legislation to a point in time

The most thorough method is to:

  1. Locate an online compilaton of the act
  2. Browse to the legislative history in the Notes table at the end of the act
  3. Look at the Table of Acts to see the history of amendments to the Act. (Note that Reprints are not listed in CTH acts). You can check the latest reprint in Federal Statutes Annotations (LexisNexis AU)
  4. Make a note of the amendments up to the point in time in which you are interested

Historical Compilations Online

ComLaw and LawNow include historical superceded compilations. (A compilation becomes superceded each time the act is amended).

ComLaw

  1. Select Acts from the top of the screen
  2. Browse for act in either the Current tab or the Historical tab
  3. Once you find act, select View Series
  4. Superceded versions of compilations are listed beneath the current compilation

OR

Search for act by name or number and select View Series to see all previous compilations.

LawNow Legislation (LexisNexis AU)

  1. Select from the jurisdictions offered
  2. Under Acts, select Historical Versions
  3. Browse to the act you want to update

Federal Statutes Annotations (LexisNexis AU)

Federal Statutes Annotations provides a summary overview of Commonwealth legislation. Information included for each principal Act includes latest reprint, details of amending Acts since the latest reprint, together with commencement provisions and dates of operation.  Case annotations of judgments interpreting legislative provisions are also included for both Acts and Regulations. Details of reprints, amendments and gazettals are provided for subordinate legislation. A list of repealed legislation is also included.

History of Specific Provisions within Acts

  1. Locate an online compilation of the act
  2. Browse to the Notes table at the end of the act
  3. Look at the Table of Amendments to see the history of amendments to specific provisions in the Act. They are listed numerically
  4. Note down the title and number of amending Acts which have affected the provision in which you are interested
  5. Locate the amending Numbered acts online if available or on the shelf in the Legislation collection on Level 2 of the Beasley Law Library

Point-in-time research - WA Acts

Legislation to a point-in-time

As for Commonwealth legislation, the most thorough method is to:

  1. Locate an online current compilation of the act in State Law Publisher or Lawlex
  2. Browse to Notes at the end of the act
  3. Look at the Compilation Table to see the history of amendments to the Act
  4. Make a note of the amendments up to the point in time in which you are interested

History of Specific Provisions within Acts

If you are interested in the history of a particular provision of the act, go to that provision in the current compilation of the act and view the history of amendments given in italics below the text of each provision.

Here is an example showing the changes to ss 79 and 80 of the Stamp Act 1921 (WA) on State Law Publisher:

Legislation point in time slp.  Keywords to look for: amended, deleted and inserted

Historical Compilations Online

State Law Publisher provides legislative history by keeping historical versions of earlier compilations where available. Earliest versions are 1998+. Link to earlier versions from the act homepage.

Legislation slp act versions.  Screenshot of State Law Publisher highlighting 'versions of this act' link

Point-in-Time Search

Use the Search option from the left-side banner in State Law Publisher to find act compilations 2006+ and Acts as Passed (Numbered Acts) 2000+

•	Legislation slp point in time search.  Screenshot of State Law Publisher search interface, accessible from the left hand navigation menu.  Use the drop-down lists to search by date.