Official Version of Statutes
Which versions of a Nova Scotia statute are "official"? Is there more than one official version? Is one official version "more official" than another? There is more than one official version. The answers to the first and third questions are that it depends upon the the purpose for which you wish to use the statute. There are several versions of a statute resulting from the legislative process and subsequent publication of the statute. Some are official and some are not.
By Section 3 of the Evidence Act, evidence of a statute may be given by production of a copy of the statute purporting to be published by the Queen's Printer [subsection 3(1)] or by authority of the Speaker of the House of Assembly [subsection 3(2A)], whether in print or electronic form.
Every statute begins as a bill. First, there is the bill that was passed by the House of Assembly. This may be the original bill passed by the House with or without changes marked upon it or accompanying it or it may be a reprinted bill approved by the House.
Second, there is the bill that is assented to by the Lieutenant Governor (or in the absence of the Governor, by the Administrator of the Province). The Lieutenant Governor does not sign the bill passed by the House of Assembly but rather a "compared copy" of the bill certified by the Speaker and by the Clerk of the House of Assembly to be the bill as passed by the House. In the past, the compared copy consisted of a copy of the original bill with any changes made by the House marked on it or attached to it. Today, a "clean" bill (an engrossed bill) is usually prepared with the changes incorporated into it.
Third, upon a bill receiving Royal Assent by the Lieutenant Governor, the bill is reprinted as passed and assented to and with the date of Royal Assent and its chapter number. This version of the statute is in 8 1/2" x 11" bill format.
The assented-to version of a bill is published by the Office of the Legislative Counsel by authority of the Speaker and printed by the Queen's Printer. It is an official version of the statute. The compared copy signed by the Lieutenant Governor is perhaps the most authentic version; however, it cannot always be a substitute for the bound volume.
A statute is next published in a bound volume with the other statutes passed at the same sitting of the House of Assembly. This version of the statutes has headers added (in the past, marginal notes) and is in an approximate 6" x 9" format. Bound volumes are published once or twice each year by the Office of the Legislative Counsel by authority of the Speaker and printed by the Queen's Printer .
The version of a statute appearing in the bound volume is usually considered the official version of the statute. It is the permanent record of the statute. It is the version that must be referred to when considering a bill or statute that amends it -- it is the version to which all line references in amendments refer, not the assented-to version. On the other hand, if there is a discrepancy between the bound version and the assented-to version, the latter version will prevail as the better evidence of the Legislature's legislative action.
Individual pamphlet copies of some statutes are also published. Most of these are in either a 6" x 9" or a 8 1/2" x 11" format.
This version of a statute is also an official version.
Periodically, the public statutes are revised. The revised statutes replace the statutes enacted by the Legislature. The revised statutes are an official version of the statutes published pursuant to the Statute Revision Act.
Upon a statute coming into force, it is published in the looseleaf consolidation of the public statutes. This version of the statute is another official version, whether published as originally enacted or consolidated with amendments. The consolidation is published pursuant to the Statute Revision Act and, pursuant to subsection 8(3) of that Act, a statute in the consolidation may be given as evidence of that statute.
Although in 6" x 9" format, the lines of a statute may not be the same as in the bound version.
Almost all public statutes and many other statutes are available on the Internet on the website of this Office. Most electronic versions have no official status at this time; however, by Section 3 of the Evidence Act and Section 8 of the the Statute Revision Act, electronic versions may have official status. At this time, the only electronic versions having official status are the PDF's of the assented-to statutes for 2003 (Second Session) and subsequent.