Legislative and Policy Committee: Working Party Guidelines

Thank you for agreeing to contribute to one of our working parties! Without you, we couldn’t do this. ELA’s reputation means that when we speak, others listen. That reputation is hard won on the work of other working parties hitting deadlines, delivering high quality and consistent papers with outstanding content. These guidance notes are intended to help you so that you can concentrate on substance, not form. They help ELA maintain its reputation which, in turn, means that your work is also more likely to have influence.


1. Deadlines are short. Work is intense. If Papers are to be submitted as ELA documents they need to be reviewed: that requires time.

2. The Working Party Chair must produce a final draft 7 days before the submission deadline so as to enable L&P Chair and thereafter ELA Chair to carry out a full review and for amendments to be made. If this is not possible the Working Party Chair must liaise with L&P Chair to agree a deadline.

3. Members of the Working Party must deliver their part of the paper to the deadline set by the Chair of the Working Party. Failure to do so places an unfair burden on the Chair.  Please don’t do that. They have enough to do, and it may result in you being removed from the Working Party.

4. The Chair of the Working Party will decide whether the Working Party will have the opportunity to review and comment on the consolidated paper before it is submitted to L&P Chair. 


5. Time is too short to review form rather than substance. Freeing you from formatting means that Working Parties can concentrate on content.

6. The Working Party Chair will be given the Master Template. The formatting must be retained.

7. The Template contains a paragraph for the Executive Summary by the Chair. This is the most important section of the document.

8. Numbering conventions in the Template will be 1, 1.1, 1.1.1 and so on continuously throughout the document.

9. Subheadings should be used to make the document more readable.

10. Lists should follow a convention of each item of the list beginning with an uncapitalised letter (unless a proper noun etc) and ending with a semicolon, with the penultimate item having an “and” after the semi-colon. Bullets points or other non-template formatting should not be used.

11. Cases in Italics only, with the case reference (if required) in un-italicised text, using square brackets for the year. Facts are not normally required.


12. ELA is apolitical. ELA does not comment on political matters. That does not mean that Working Parties have to avoid contentious matters, but it does mean that ELA is often unable to comment on questions which relate to pure matters of policy.

13. Working Party papers are expressed as representing the views of ELA.  ELA aims to populate Working Parties with members representing a cross-section of membership and reasonable views.  However, it is extremely important that Working Party members remember that their role is not only to put across their own views, but also the reasonable views of other ELA members whose views may differ.

14. In light of the above, an important step in the process of compiling a Working Party paper is the initial Working Party call or meeting.  The Chair of the Working Party will typically invite members to discuss their views on each question posed at this meeting.  This will provide an opportunity for countervailing views to be expressed, at all times respectfully, and in the spirit of ensuring that Working Party members completing individual sections of the paper can accurately reflect the views of others.  It is very important that Working Party members do their utmost to attend that initial call / meeting.

15. Where a contentious issue is addressed, views may be counterposed, for example: “Some Working Party members expressed view X because of Y. Other Working Party members disagreed with view X because of Z.” Where it is appropriate to include counterposed views, they should be set out in a balanced manner along with the rationale for each of them.  The Chair of the Working Party shall have the ultimate discretion to determining whether a particular viewpoint will be included or not.

16. ELA is widely recognised as contributing particularly significant technical expertise in its Working Party papers.  Working Parties are therefore particularly encouraged to identify drafting errors or inconsistencies, or aspects of proposed legislation which may give rise to unintended consequences. However, the role of the working party is not to suggest alternative drafting but to identify the issues with the current drafting.

17. In a call for evidence, please cite evidence for a proposition where possible.

18. Use plain English. Avoid jargon. Be concise. Be specific. Cite sources / hyperlink to them. Active sentences are easier and quicker to read than passive sentences. Short sentences aid clarity. Headings help the reader.

19. Working Party members should recognise that their submissions may be edited, in some cases substantially, to avoid duplication and to ensure consistency of style throughout the paper.

20. The Working Party Chair/s have the final decision on the content of the draft submitted to L&P Chair. Thereafter the decision as to content is that of the L&P Chair subject to the final decision of ELA Chair.

21. Please note that Working Party members' names are listed in the response paper and on ELA's website, which is publicly available, and ELA may permit publication of the responses by consulting bodies who publish consultation responses.  This so regardless of whether or not any individual Working Party member's views on any particular point have been reflected in the response.