To give another example, think of what it can be like sometimes to navigate through detailed legislation, in which sections are subject to other sections and subsections, sometimes scores of sections apart. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we could see an Act’s list of sections, click on those we want to see and, instead of being rocketed to either a single HTML page containing that section or to a single point in a single HTML page containing the whole Act, the section content would magically drop down?
This sort of thing is quite doable these days. To show you what I mean, I’ve plucked the first seven sections from the Interpretation Act 1999 and added them to a drop-down kind of interface. Imagine if one had an option of navigating all legislation and legal notices online in this way. Wouldn’t that be, well, useful? Anyway, here’s the demo with a handful of sections from the Interpretation Act. Click on a few section titles; open and close them and you’ll see what I mean.
Interpretation Act 1999
Public Act 1999 No 85
Date of assent 3 August 1999
Commencement see section 3
An Act relating to the interpretation, application, and effect of legislation
1. Short Title
2. Purposes of this Act
(a) to state principles and rules for the interpretation of legislation; and
(b) to shorten legislation; and
(c) to promote consistency in the language and form of legislation.
(a) the enactment provides otherwise; or
(b) the context of the enactment requires a different interpretation.
(2) The provisions of this Act also apply to the interpretation of this Act.
5. Ascertaining meaning of legislation
(2) The matters that may be considered in ascertaining the meaning of an enactment include the indications provided in the enactment.
(3) Examples of those indications are preambles, the analysis, a table of contents, headings to Parts and sections, marginal notes, diagrams, graphics, examples and explanatory material, and the organisation and format of the enactment.