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A statute is a formal, written law of a country or state, written and enacted by its legislative authority, perhaps to then be ratified by the highest executive in the government, and finally published. Typically, statutes command, prohibit, or declare something. Statutes are sometimes referred to as legislation or “black letter law.”
Statutory law is written law (as opposed to oral or customary law) set down by a legislature or other governing authority such as the executive branch of government in response to a perceived need to clarify the functioning of government, improve civil order, answer a public need, to codify existing law, or for an individual or company to obtain special treatment in contrast to Common Law. In addition to the statutes passed by the national or state legislature, lower authorities or municipalities may also promulgate administrative regulations or municipal ordinances that have the force of law—the process of creating these administrative decrees are generally classified as rulemaking. While these enactments are subordinate to the law of the whole state or nation, they are nonetheless a part of the body of a jurisdiction’s statutory law.
Private legislation that may originate as a private bill is a lesser known aspect of statutory law. An example was divorce in Canada prior to the passage of the Divorce Act of 1968. It was possible to obtain a legislative divorce in Canada by application to the Canadian Senate, which reviewed and investigated petitions for divorce, which would then be voted upon by the Senate and subsequently made into law. In the United Kingdom Parliament, private bills were used in the nineteenth century to create corporations, grant monopolies and give individuals rights in excess of the public and common law. Their use has become more limited in the twentieth century. In the United States private bills include grants of citizenship to individuals who are otherwise ineligible for normal immigration or visa processing; alleviation of tax liability; military decorations; and for special veterans benefits. In the United Kingdom, individuals may present private bills through the assistance of a parliamentary agent. These are firms knowledgeable about the process of drafting and presenting a private bill to the clerks and committees of the United Kingdom Parliament. In Canada and the United States law firms and lobbyists generally act as intermediaries in the drafting of private bills with members of Parliament and Congress, respectively.
The term codified law is sometimes used as a synonym for statutory law in general. In this jurisdiction, portions of the statutory law are also referred to as “codes,” such as the Civil Code or the Revised Penal Code.
In a more narrow technical sense, however, the term codified law refers to statutes that have been organized (“codified”) by subject matter; in this narrower sense, some but not all statutes are considered “codified.” In the United States, a common example of an uncodified statute (in this narrow sense) would be the section or sections of Republic Act that provides for the effective date of the Act. The substantive provisions of the Act could be codified (arranged by subject matter) in one or more titles of the code while the “effective date” provisions—remaining uncodified—would be available by reference to the Philippine statute at large. Another example of an “uncodified” statute is a “private law” passed by the Congress—a law affecting only one person or a small group of persons.
Another meaning of “codified law” is a statute that takes the common law in a certain area of the law and puts it in statute or code form.
Executive Orders (1)
Republic Acts (10210)
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