Reliance on Components

AuthorRuth Sullivan
Acts are given short titles for ease of reference and long titles that indi-
cate the subject and scope of the Act.1 Each section of an Act is given a
short descriptive label, historically called a marginal note, which is set
out above or next to the relevant section or in a table of contents at the
beginning of the Act. In addition, many Acts have internal t itles, head-
ings, and subheadings. They indicate the subject or purpose of the pro-
visions that follow and help to indicate the structure and scheme of the
Act. Some Acts have preambles, which set out the primary considera-
tions that moved the legislature to enact the legislation. Occasionally,
Acts have schedules or appendices. They contain material which, be-
cause of its form, cannot conveniently be included in the body of the
Act for example, lists, tables, maps, or forms to be used in adminis-
tering the Act. Schedules are also used to set out texts or instruments
that are relevant to the legislation, such as a treaty that is implemented
or a contract that is validated in the main body of the Act.
There is no doubt that components can sometimes shed light on
the meaning or purpo se of legislation, and courts have taken advantage
of this assistance on countless occasions. Nonetheless, the r ules gov-
erning the use of components are tec hnical, complex, inconsistent, and
uncertain. There are three main sources of diff‌iculty.
1 In some jurisd ictions, for example Ontar io, the convention of long and short
titles ha s been abandoned, and Acts receive a s ingle title.

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