New Laws Introduced in Laws of the Sport 4th Edition

While the new Laws of the Sport have some 60 plus changes to the 3rd edition, most of them are to bring the wording of the Laws into line and do not affect the playing or officiating of the game itself.

new law Book

Below we have listed the 7 new or altered Laws that Players and Officials should be made aware of. Comments in RED are our attempt to clarify the changes.

  • 13.3 A player must not deliver a bowl before the previous bowl comes to rest and possession of the rink has transferred to the opposing player or team.
  • This law has been moved from 11.2.2 (Order of Play) to Possession of the Rink.
    No player should even be on the mat while his opponents bowl is still in motion, so delivering a bowl before another bowl has stopped should NEVER happen. See Law 13.4


  • 13.4 If the umpire, either by their own observation or on appeal by one of the Skips or opponents in Singles, decides that a player has delivered a bowl before the previous bowl has come to rest, or the players in possession of the rink are being interfered with, annoyed or distracted in any way by their opponents
    • 13.4.1 the first time this happens the umpire must:
      • 13.4.1.1 warn the offending player, while the skip is present; and
      • 13.4.1.2 tell the coach, if they are present, that the player has received a warning.
    • 13.4.2 on each occasion after this, the umpire must have the bowl last played by the offending player or team declared dead. If that bowl has disturbed the head, the opposing skip or opponent in Singles must choose whether to:
      • 13.4.2.1 replace the head;
      • 13.4.2.2 leave the head as altered; or
      • 13.4.2.3 declare the end dead.
  • This is NOT a new Law, it is merely re-worded to include Law 13.3. It should be taken note of. Possession of the Rink infringements carry a serious Penalty and Umpires MUST take action on its infringements.

  • 26.3 There must be no further play in a knockout competition if at any point it becomes impossible for a player, team or side to win the game, given the number of ends left.
  • A new Law. Self-Explanatory

  • 29.1.4 If a bowl has been played by each team or player in Singles before the players discover that one of them has played out of turn, play in that end must continue in that order.
  • Prior to this law being introduced, Laws 29.1.1 to 29.1.3 applied whenever the irregularity was discovered.
    Now they only apply if the irregularity is discovered when the player’s first bowl that is played out of turn is being played.
    If both teams have already played at least 1 bowl since the player has played out of turn, then the end continues in that order for any remaining players too.


    This has been received from World Bowls on 25th April 2023;
    "Concern has been around the severe penalty of forfeiting the game and clarity in the wording of the law itself.br> Recommendations have been received to reduce the severity of the forfeit to penalising with shot deductions.
    This approach would be inconsistent with any other law and was not felt to be a suitable solution.
    Penalties have always existed for the displacement of a bowl by its own team players but at the time of the 2021 Laws review these penalties were not felt to be severe enough for what is considered an act of “cheating”.
    Having considered several options to improve the intent of these two laws, the World Bowls Laws Advisory Group have concluded and recommended to the Board of World Bowls to rescind them.
    The numbering of Law 37.1.4 will remain untouched until the next review of the Laws.
    The changes to the Laws are summarised as follows:
    7.1.3 If a bowl in its original course is deliberately displaced or stopped by a member of the team that delivered the bowl, the defaulting team will forfeit the game to their opponent"

  • 37.1.3 If a bowl in its original course is deliberately displaced or stopped by a member of the team that delivered the bowl, the defaulting team will forfeit the game to their opponent.
  • In its “Response to Proposed Changes” document the Laws Committee looked at a scenario where a player could deliberately stop a bowl from disturbing the head and the only Law that covered it was Law 36 (Deliberate Non-Sporting Action). This has no immediate effect on the game being played and involves making an appeal to the Controlling Body for redress.
    They proposed the change to the Law: “a law be included in the displacement section to the effect that if a player, for whatever reason, deliberately stops one of his team’s bowls, the game is conceded to the opponent”.
    The effect of the introduction of Law 37.1.3 is just that - stopping your team's bowl in motion will result in conceding the game. The Laws Committee concluded that there is no valid reason for stopping your own team's bowl in motion as outlined, as anything that results from not stopping it is already covered by the Laws of the Sport.


  • 37.1.5.3 If a player lifts a bowl at rest on their rink to allow their team’s bowl in its original course to pass, the defaulting team will forfeit the game to their opponent.
  • This has a similar rationale to 37.1.3. Doing so up until this Law was introduced carried no immediate penalty and was reliant on an appeal to the Controlling Body

  • 42.2.1 Duties of the Marker now include: MUST check the centre line of the Mat