What are Uniform Laws and Model Acts?
Uniform laws, such as the Uniform Probate Code, are a set of laws on a particular topic that are proposed by the Uniform Law Commission of the National Commissioners on Uniform State Law. State legislatures are encouraged to adopt the laws to increase uniformity of laws across state lines. Over 100 different uniform laws have been passed and are in effect in at least one state. However, with the exception of business laws, such as the UCC, the enacted laws are seldom "uniform" as they are adapted to each state's needs.
Model acts, such as the Model Penal Code, are proposed to legislatures with the aim of reforming existing laws rather than ensuring uniformity.
Neither uniform laws nor model acts have the force of law until they are passed by a state legislature. For more information, read the Legal Information Institute's page on Uniform Laws.
What are Uniform Laws Annotated?
Each section of a uniform law is annotated with citations to enacted state codes, relevant case law and secondary sources. Only Westlaw and the print version have these annotations. Some of the free websites list the state code citations, but no source other than Westlaw links to case law or law reviews.
Uniform laws and model acts are draft statutes prepared by committees of scholars and practitioners and recommended to the states. They are prepared when it appears that the law would be best served by uniformity among the states or as a suggested “best practice” in a specific area. The UNIFORM LAWS ANNOTATED includes most of the proposed uniform laws and model acts, which states have adopted them (including any modifications), and for each proposal the rationale for uniformity and the specific provisions recommended. These laws have been debated and litigated-over extensively, and have the advantage of allowing authority from foreign jurisdictions to be persuasive.
How can I use Uniform Laws and Model Acts?
If you are unable to find cases interpreting your state's section of an act, using one of the sources to the left, you can locate other states that use the same language and search their annotations for persuasive authority.