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The ‘Laws of the Sport of Bowls – Crystal Mark Fourth Edition’ was approved at the Biennial World Bowls Council Meeting held in August 2022 and will come into force for outdoor play in England from 1st April.

The Laws allow Member National Authorities (MNAs), including Bowls England, to make regulations – called ‘Domestic Regulations’ – to cover a number of aspects of the sport. These are included within the print version of the ‘Laws of the Sport of Bowls – Crystal Mark Fourth Edition’ available now from Bowls England.

The Laws also permit Controlling Bodies to decide what Conditions of Play (COPs) are necessary to govern their competitions – this can include Tournament Organisers at all levels of our sport.

We would encourage all participants and administrators in the sport to be in possession of a current version of the Laws including the Bowls England Domestic Regulations.

A full summary of the revisions included in the Laws of the Sport of Bowls Crystal Mark Fourth Edition can be viewed here.

The portal to purchase a copy of the new Laws of the Sport will be live by 12pm on Thursday 23rd March. Copies can be purchased individually or in bulk, and include post and packing.

Laws Committee Clarification – Law 37.1 Deliberate Bowl Displacement

In response to questions being asked about the introduction of two new laws relating to the deliberate displacement by a player of their own bowl in its original course or bowl at rest, the World Bowls Laws Committee has issued the following clarification.

Laws Committee Clarification

In the Crystal Mark Fourth Edition, two new laws were approved and included within Law 37.1 Bowl Displacement by another player, to alleviate the situation of a player stopping one of their own team’s bowls from disturbing the head and gaining an advantage either by lifting a bowl at rest or stopping their bowl in its original course.

These are:

Law 37.1.3 If a player deliberately stops or displaces one of their own team’s bowls in its original course; or

Law if a player deliberately lifted a bowl at rest to allow their own bowl to continue on its original course.

Both laws state that the “defaulting team will forfeit the game to their opponent”. Where that team is part of a Side game, only that team will forfeit the game, not the entire side. We recommend that Controlling Bodies include details of how the scoring should be adjusted in their competition Conditions of Play.

The new laws were not introduced to ‘punish’ players that stop a bowl from entering the ditch that hasn’t disturbed the head. The Laws Committee understands this occurs on a regular basis but it is a timely reminder and a key message from the Laws Committee that no bowl belonging to the players on the rink of play should be lifted, stopped or displaced. Other laws are available to deal with situations where bowls displace other bowls and the jack and these should still be applied accordingly.


The World Bowls Laws Committee undertakes a comprehensive review of the Laws of the Sport on the same four-yearly cycle as the Commonwealth Games.

The last major review was held in 2014 and led to the publication of the ‘Laws of the Sport of Bowls– Crystal Mark Third Edition’.

A review was not undertaken in 2018 because the board of World Bowls and MNAs felt that wholesale changes to the Laws were unnecessary at that time.


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