Delegated legislation

Follow the correct style to cite delegated legislation made under the authority of an Act. This will help people find the source material.

Delegated legislation comes in many forms

Delegated legislation is made under the authority of an Act, not by the Act directly. For example, parliament may delegate this authority to a minister, statutory bodies or office holders.

Regulations are the most common type of delegated legislation. There are many others, including:

  • determinations
  • ordinances
  • proclamations
  • orders
  • rules
  • by-laws
  • standards
  • principles.

Some jurisdictions refer to delegated legislation as ‘subordinate legislation’, ‘subsidiary legislation’ or ‘statutory rules’.

Some, but not all, types of delegated legislation are legislative instruments. ‘Legislative instrument’ is defined in section 8 of the Legislation Act 2003. All legislative instruments are registered on the Legislation Register. Regulations are legislative instruments.

The Legislation Register also contains notifiable instruments. These are not legislative, but are notices about legal matters of interest to the public. An example is the Order to Call Out the Australian Defence Force Reserves [No. 2], made during Australia’s bushfire crisis in 2020.

Style for regulations titles is roman type, title case

Use title case (maximal capitalisation) and roman type for the titles of regulations. 

Always capitalise ‘Regulations’ or ‘Regulation’ when you write the title of regulations and refer to particular regulations.

Cite the title exactly without altering the spelling. The year forms part of the title. There is no comma between title and year.


  • The Ombudsman Regulations 2017 is an instrument made under the Ombudsman Act 1976. These Regulations …
  • Superannuation Industry Supervision Regulations 1994 (Cth)
  • Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Regulations 1982 (WA)

The basic unit of regulations is a regulation (reg)

Regulations are compilations made up of individual regulations. Each regulation might be divided into subregulations.

Use lower case when citing an individual regulation or subregulation, unless they begin a sentence.

Some titles are singular so check to make sure you write the title correctly. A singular regulation still contains regulations and subregulations.


  • … pursuant to regulation 58 of Defence Regulation 2016. [Note the full title of the Regulation is singular]
  • Regulation 4A and subregulation 4AA(2) of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. [Note the full title of the Regulations is plural.]
  • The Regulations deal with the importation of plastic explosives into Australia (regulation 4AA).

The shortened forms of regulations and subregulations are:

  • reg
  • regs
  • subreg
  • subregs.


An authorised officer under the Water Act 2007 will be issued with an identity card … The associated regulations specify other mandatory features of the card, including the Commonwealth Coat of Arms (Water Regulations 2008, reg 10.1).

Regulations receive a unique identifier when registered on the Legislation Register for example, F2019C00400 (Ombudsman Regulations 2017). You can use the identifier to search for regulations or to point users to earlier superseded regulations.


… the licence variations prescribed in the Water Amendment Regulation 2012 (No. 1) (F2012L01015).

Other delegated legislation follows title case, no italics

Style for all other titles of delegated legislation is the same as for regulations. 

Use roman type and title case for citations that give the full title.

Use an initial capital for a reference to a specific instrument. Use lower case for generic references.


Use the long form ‘Determination’ for in-text citations and notes.


Remuneration Tribunal (Members of Parliament) Determination No. 2 2019, Part 6

Financial Management Determination 2019 (Tas)

Use a capital ‘D’ when you refer to a particular determination or to determinations.

Use a lower case ‘d’ when you write about generic determinations.


Under section 10 of the Australian Passports Determination 2015. This Determination ...

The Act allows benefits to be varied by determination of the Remuneration Tribunal.


Use the long forms ‘Order’ and ‘Orders’ for in-text citations and notes.


Marine Order 44 (Safe Containers) 2019, subsection 6(1)

Use a capital ‘O’ when you refer to a particular order or to orders.

Use a lower case ‘o’ when you write about generic orders.


  • The calculation methods for associate deferred pension annual rates are prescribed by the Judges’ Pensions Order 2013, section 8. The Order … [A specific reference]
  • In Australia, exports are regulated through legislation, regulations and orders. [A generic reference]


Use the long forms ‘Ordinance’ and ‘Ordinances’ for in-text citations and notes.


Administration Ordinance 1990 (Jervis Bay Territory), section 3A

Use a capital ‘O’ when you refer to a particular ordinance.

Use a lower case ‘o’ when you write about generic ordinances.


… the Norfolk Island Administrator Ordinance 2016. The Ordinance

The Governor-General has the power to make ordinances for the peace, order and good government of the Jervis Bay Territory.

Acts in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory were known as ordinances until self-government.


A rule is made by judges or legislation setting out how a court will conduct its proceedings.

Don’t use ‘rule’ and ‘ruling’ interchangeably. They are different things. Rulings are authoritative decisions made by a court or similar body about matters before them.

Use a capital ‘R’ when you refer to a particular rule or rules.

Use a lower case ‘r’ when you write about generic rules.


… High Court Rules 2004. The Rules

The Minister has the power to make rules under the National Land (Road Transport) Ordinance 2014.

Units for rules are ‘rules’ and ‘subrules’.

Use lower case for their shortened forms:

  • r (rule)
  • subr (subrule)
  • rr (rules)
  • subrr (subrules).


Sittings of a Full Court are held at places and on days fixed by rule of Court or as appointed by the Chief Justice (High Court Rules 2004, rr 6.04.1 and 6.04.2). 

If an appeal relates to a private ruling by the ATO Commissioner, the sealed copy of the notice of appeal must be served within 6 days after filing (Federal Court Rules 2011, r 33.03.5).

Release notes

The digital edition has considerable advice on how to cite legal material. It includes new material on Commonwealth tribunals and Australian Tax Office rulings. It expands on sixth edition information on treaties.

The digital edition departs from sixth edition guidance about the capitalisation, punctuation and italicisation of citation elements for some legal material. The current edition also recommends the contraction ‘Cth’ rather than ‘Cwlth’.

These departures are informed by legal material and general publications from Australian courts, government agencies working in the legislative context and academic sources. The digital edition style is for general, rather than specialist, legal content.

The Content Guide briefly mentioned legislation in relation to capitalisation. There was no detailed guidance about how to cite legislation.

About this page


Attorney-General’s Department (n.d.) Legal system: publications, Attorney-General’s Department website, accessed 16 June 2020.

Attorney-General’s Department (2017) Style guide, Australian Government, Canberra.

Australian Government Solicitor (n.d.) Publications, Australian Government Solicitor website, accessed 16 June 2020.

Hansard (2020) Hansard style guide, Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Australia, Canberra.

Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc and Melbourne Journal of International Law (2018) Australian guide to legal citation, 4th edn, Melbourne University Law Review Association Inc, accessed 16 June 2020.

OPC (Office of Parliamentary Counsel) (n.d.) Drafting Direction No. 3.8: subordinate legislation, OPC website, accessed 16 June 2020.

OPC (n.d.) Drafting manuals, OPC, accessed 16 June 2020.

OPC (n.d.) Glossary, Federal Register of Legislation website, accessed 16 June 2020.

OPC (2019) Instruments handbook, OPC, accessed 16 June 2020.

PM&C (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet) (2017) Legislation handbook, PM&C, accessed 16 June 2020.

PM&C (2019) Federal Executive Council handbook 2019, PM&C, accessed 16 June 2020.

Thomson Reuters Australia (2017) ‘Legislation and commentary table of abbreviations’, Westlaw AU Guides, Thomson Reuters Australia, accessed 16 June 2020.

University of Technology Sydney and University of New South Wales Faculties of Law (n.d.) Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), AustLII website, accessed 16 June 2020.

Whitbread D and Leary K (2016) AGS editorial style guide, Australian Government Solicitor, Canberra.

This page was updated Thursday 10 June 2021.

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