Drafting convention for lists of paragraphs

An explanation of the drafting convention for lists of paragraphs in the Taxation Acts.

Inland Revenue drafters have decided to improve the consistency with which they conform to the drafting convention described below.

The convention

If items in a list of paragraphs are linked conjunctively, they are separated by "; and". The use of "; and" is thus equivalent to introducing the list of paragraphs with the words "all of the following: ...".

If items in a list of paragraphs are linked disjunctively, they are separated by "; or". The use of "; or" is thus equivalent to introducing the list of paragraphs with the words "one, but not more than one, of the following: ...".

A colon is used to separate items in a list of paragraphs if the items in the paragraphs are not linked conjunctively or disjunctively. The use of the colon may thus be equivalent to introducing the list with the words "one or more of the following: ...".

Comment

Items separated by a colon under the convention could be separated in colloquial English prose by "and" or "or" (which would be equivalent to each other in the context) with or without a comma or semi-colon. The use of "and" and "or" in such a way detracts from the conjunctive and disjunctive senses of the two terms; for drafting purposes, it would be better not to use either conjunction for such a list.

It is not possible to omit all conjunctions from a list when drafting in prose but it is possible to separate items in a list of paragraphs without using a conjunction. Inland Revenue drafters have decided to do so consistently.

For technical drafting reasons, the Parliamentary Counsel Office chose several decades ago to use a bare colon, rather than a bare comma or semi-colon, to link paragraphs that are not linked conjunctively or disjunctively. Inland Revenue drafters are using the same convention.