A private bill is a proposal for a law that would apply to a particular individual or group of individuals, or corporate entity. This is unlike public bills which apply to everyone within their jurisdiction. Private law can afford relief from another law, grant a unique benefit or powers not available under the general law, or relieve someone from legal responsibility for some allegedly wrongful act. There are many examples of such private law in democratic countries, although its use has changed over time. A private bill is not to be confused with a private member’s bill, this being a bill introduced by a “backbencher” or a "crossbencher".
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In Canada, private bills today are used to deal with older organizations, such as Bill S-1001 in 2006 restructuring Scouts Canada. Private bills can also be used to give official government tribute to some person or group. Unlike with most other legislation, it is common for private bills to originate in the Senate rather than the House. For the first hundred years after Confederation, private bills were more common. For example, prior to the passage of the Divorce Act in 1968, there was no uniform federal divorce law. In some provinces, the only way to obtain a divorce was by a legislative divorce, by means of a private bill passed by the federal Parliament. This required an application to the Canadian Senate which reviewed and investigated petitions for divorce. The final report of the committee handling the case would then be voted upon by the Senate and subsequently enacted as an Act of Parliament.
United Kingdom 
There are two types of private Act in the United Kingdom. The first are Acts for the benefit of individuals (known as "Private or Personal Acts") which have historically often dealt with divorces or granting British nationality to foreigners, but in modern terms are generally limited to authorising marriages which would otherwise not be legal.
United States 
In the United States, private bills were common between 1817 and 1971. Now federal agencies are able to deal with most of the issues that were previously dealt with under private bills as these agencies have been granted sufficient discretion by the United States Congress to deal with exceptions to the general legislative scheme of various laws. The kinds of private bills that are still introduced include grants of citizenship to individuals who are otherwise ineligible for normal visa processing; alleviation of tax liabilities; armed services decorations and veteran benefits.
In 2012, a Nigerian student, Sopuruchi "Victor" Chukwueke, became the first person in two years to be the beneficiary of a private bill: he was in the United States on an expired visa, and the bill, sponsored by Senator Carl Levin, made possible a path to permanent residency, something the University of Toledo in Ohio required for Chukwueke to be admitted to its medical school.
Private laws are published individually as slip laws and included chronologically in United States Statutes at Large. Slip laws and U.S. Statutes at Large are available in most academic libraries and Federal Depository Library Program institutions, and at the U.S. Government Printing Office. In the United States Constitution, the concept of a private law, when applied punitively, is covered by the term bill of attainder. Such punitive private laws are therefore unconstitutional.
See also 
- List of beneficiaries of immigration/nationality-related United States Private Bills/Laws
- Hybrid bill
- Chronological Table of the Private and Personal Acts Part 33 (1910-1987), Office of Public Sector Information – retrieved 23 May 2009
- Chronological Tables of Local Acts Part 187 (1989-2003), Office of Public Sector Information – retrieved May 23, 2009
- "For The Relief of Sopuruchi "Victor" Chukwueke (Page: S5412". Library of Congress. July 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Karimi, Faith (December 29, 2012). "Obama signs bill to grant Nigerian student U.S. permanent residency". CNN. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Federal Depository Libraries
- List of recent beneficiaries of immigration-related private bills
- United States: Beth, Richard S. (July 21, 1998). "Private Bills: Procedure in the House". house.gov. Archived from the original on 2008-05-21.
- Canada: "Table of Private Acts (1867 to December 31, 1997)". justice.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2001-05-30.