I have some trouble understanding legal terms. I'll be very grateful to you if you could clarify the meaning of 'after commencement' in the first sentence of the British Nationality Act 1981.

1.-(1) A person born in the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a >British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother is - (a) a >British citizen; or (b) settled in the United Kingdom.

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    I really feel the proper answer to this question would be one of understanding Legalese, not understanding English. This is not a word in a context that would be used in anything other than the document from which it comes, which to me seems too localized to be of proper benefit to the Stack Exchange QA format. – corsiKa Dec 12 '11 at 3:11

Commence means start.

So it means the clause will apply after the act comes into force.

  • Although I knew what 'commencement' or 'commence' means I still found the meaning confusing. Now, it's clear. Thank you – user15851 Dec 25 '11 at 10:29

As clarified in the marginal notes in the text of the act itself,

"[C]ommencement", without more, means the commencement of this Act.

In other words, commencement refers to the moment law is enacted.

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    No. Commencement was a date set out in an order under subsection 53(2). For the important parts of the Act this was more than a year after enactment. – Henry Dec 11 '11 at 23:49

Commencement for each part of the Act was the day set out in an order under subsection 53(2) which says

This Act, except the provisions mentioned in subsection (3), shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument appoint; and references to the commencement of this Act shall be construed as references to the beginning of that day

Only for sections 49 and 53 was commencement the day the Act was enacted. According to the UK Border Agency, the BNA 1981 received Royal Assent on 30 October 1981. Its main provisions came into effect on 1 January 1983.

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