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Understanding Statutes: Uniform Laws and Model Acts

Basic Legal Research Concepts

Uniform Laws and Model Acts

Uniform Laws

Uniform Laws were created to encourage uniformity in law across the fifty states.  They basically serve as changeable templates that states can use to draft their own legislation

·         A uniform act begins as a proposal for uniform legislation put forth by the Uniform Law Commission for passage by the states. The ULC is a non-profit organization with representation from each state and some of the U.S. Territories.

·         A uniform law has no legal effect until it is enacted by the legislature of a particular state. Individual states can make modifications to the language of the proposed uniform law though they are strongly encouraged to adopt the law exactly as written. These modifications are called state variations.

·         The best source for researching uniform laws is Uniform Laws Annotated (West).

Model Acts

Model acts are similar to Uniform Laws except that, although they are usually written by the Uniform Law Commission they can be proposed by any individual or organization such as the American Law Institute, and that they are not expected to be adopted in their entirety. 

·         The proposal usually has no expectation of reasonable probability of uniform adoption.

A proposal is designated as a model act when its principal purpose can be substantially achieved even if it is not adopted in its entirety by every state.

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