Act vs. Bill

What's the Difference?

Act and Bill are both legislative measures used in the process of making laws. However, there are some key differences between the two. A bill is a proposal for a new law or a change to an existing law that is introduced in a legislative body, such as a parliament or congress. It goes through a series of readings, debates, and voting before it can become law. On the other hand, an act is a law that has been passed by the legislative body and has received royal assent or presidential approval. Once an act is enacted, it becomes legally binding and enforceable. In summary, a bill is a proposed law, while an act is a law that has been passed and enacted.


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DefinitionLegislation that has been passed by both houses of the legislature and signed into law by the executive branch.A proposed law that is under consideration by the legislature.
OriginActs are the final result of the legislative process.Bills are introduced by legislators or government officials.
EnforcementActs are legally binding and enforceable.Bills have no legal effect until they are passed and become acts.
EffectActs can amend, repeal, or create new laws.Bills, if passed, become acts and have the same effect.
Public InputActs may have undergone public hearings and consultations before being passed.Bills may be subject to public hearings and consultations during the legislative process.
ImplementationActs are implemented after they are passed and may have specific effective dates.If a bill becomes an act, it is implemented according to its provisions.
AmendmentActs can be amended by subsequent acts.Bills can be amended during the legislative process.
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Further Detail


When it comes to legislation, two commonly used terms are "Act" and "Bill." While both Act and Bill refer to proposed or enacted laws, there are significant differences between the two. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of Act and Bill, shedding light on their definitions, stages, legal status, and implications.

Definition and Purpose

An Act, also known as an "Act of Parliament" or "statute," is a law that has been formally passed by a legislative body, such as a parliament or congress. It represents a final and binding legal document that outlines the rules, regulations, and provisions governing a specific area or issue. Acts are the result of a thorough legislative process, involving debates, amendments, and voting.

A Bill, on the other hand, is a proposed law that is under consideration by a legislative body. It is a draft version of an Act and serves as a starting point for discussion and debate. Bills can be introduced by government officials, individual legislators, or even members of the public, depending on the legislative system in place. The purpose of a Bill is to address a particular problem or issue and propose a solution in the form of a law.

Stages of Development

Acts and Bills go through different stages of development before they become law. Let's take a closer look at these stages:


  1. Introduction: Acts are introduced in the legislative body by a member of the government or a legislator.
  2. Debate and Amendments: The Act goes through a series of debates, where legislators discuss its provisions, propose amendments, and raise concerns.
  3. Voting: After the debates, the Act is put to a vote. If it receives majority support, it moves to the next stage.
  4. Royal Assent: Once the Act is approved by the legislative body, it requires the formal approval of the head of state or their representative, known as the "Royal Assent." This step is usually a formality, and the Act becomes law after receiving the Royal Assent.


  1. Introduction: Bills are introduced in the legislative body, just like Acts.
  2. Committee Review: Bills are then referred to committees, where they undergo a detailed review. Experts, stakeholders, and the public may be invited to provide input and suggestions.
  3. Debate and Amendments: After the committee review, the Bill returns to the legislative body for further debate and potential amendments.
  4. Voting: Once the debates are concluded, the Bill is put to a vote. If it receives majority support, it moves to the next stage.
  5. Consideration by Other House: In bicameral systems, where there are two legislative bodies, the Bill must go through a similar process in the other house.
  6. Conference Committee: If the two houses pass different versions of the Bill, a conference committee may be formed to reconcile the differences and create a unified version.
  7. Final Voting: The Bill, in its final form, is voted on by both houses. If it receives majority support, it proceeds to the next stage.
  8. Royal Assent: Similar to Acts, Bills require the Royal Assent to become law.

Legal Status and Implications

One of the key differences between Acts and Bills lies in their legal status and implications:


Acts have the highest legal status and are considered binding laws. They are enforceable and carry legal consequences if violated. Acts can establish new legal frameworks, modify existing laws, or repeal outdated legislation. They provide clarity and certainty to individuals, businesses, and organizations, as they outline their rights, obligations, and responsibilities.


Bills, on the other hand, do not have the same legal status as Acts. They are still in the proposal stage and are subject to change. While Bills may have an impact on public opinion and policy discussions, they do not carry the force of law until they successfully pass through all the stages and receive the necessary approvals.


In summary, Acts and Bills are integral components of the legislative process. Acts represent finalized laws that have gone through the necessary stages and received the Royal Assent, while Bills are proposed laws that are still under consideration. Acts have legal force and are enforceable, while Bills are subject to change and do not carry the same legal weight. Understanding the attributes and distinctions between Acts and Bills is crucial for comprehending the legislative process and the development of laws that shape our societies.

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