|Long title||An Act to prevent Acts of Parliament from taking effect from a Time prior to the passing thereof.|
|Citation||33 Geo. 3 c. 13|
|Territorial extent||England and Wales, Scotland|
|Amended by||Interpretation Act 1978|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
The Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793 (33 Geo. 3 c. 13) was an Act of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Great Britain which provided that Acts of Parliament would come into force on the date on which they received royal assent, unless they specified some other date, instead of the first day of the session in which they were passed.
Previously, Acts of Parliament came into force on the first day of the session in which they were passed, because of the legal fiction that a session lasted one day. This meant that all Acts came into force retroactively, and that an Act could come into force on a date a year before it was actually passed. The preamble to this Act said that this was liable to produce "great and manifest injustice".
This Act provides that it applies to Acts of Parliament passed after 8 April 1793.
This Act imposes a duty on the Clerk of the Parliaments to endorse any Act which passes with the date ("the day, month and year") on which that Act passed and received royal assent. It provides that the date must be written, in English, immediately after the title of that Act, and that that endorsement is part of the endorsed Act.
This Act originally provided that the endorsed Act was to come into force on the date specified by the endorsement, where no other commencement was specified by the endorsed Act. The relevant words were repealed, on 1 January 1979 and have been replaced by section 4 of the Interpretation Act 1978, which says the same thing.
Because of the fiction that an Act had come into force on the first day of the session, it was also the convention in citing a pre-1793 Act to date it to the year in which the session had commenced. In the context of modern historical writing, however, it is more usual to date Acts (especially well-known and historically significant Acts) to the actual year in which they passed through Parliament. This leads to discrepancies in the way in which the same Act may be cited or referred to: for example, the Act of Uniformity (1 Eliz 1 c 2) is often dated to 1558 in legal contexts, but to 1559 in historical contexts; the Toleration Act (1 Will & Mary c 18) to 1688 in legal contexts, but 1689 in historical contexts; the Bill of Rights (1 Will & Mary sess 2 c 2) to 1688 in legal contexts, but 1689 in historical contexts; and the Union with Scotland Act (6 Anne c 11) to 1706 in legal contexts, but 1707 in historical contexts.