statute

statute

[stach-oot, -oot]
statute, in law, a formal, written enactment by the authorized powers of a state. The term is usually not applied to a written constitution but is restricted to the enactments of a legislature. Statute law is to be distinguished chiefly from common law, which may be defined as the body of legal rules derived from judicial decisions and custom. On most of the European continent all (or nearly all) the law is statutory and each field is subsumed by a code. In England and the United States, however, common law retains great importance, but with the expansion of government regulation there has been an immense growth in the statute law of those countries. In order to guide the courts many important statutes contain (usually in a preamble) a statement of the abuses that the legislation is intended to cure or of the general legislative intent. Statutes are classified in various ways. Public statutes (e.g., those establishing crimes) are universal in application, while private statutes (e.g., one compensating a named person for injury) are limited. Public statutes may be local, i.e., affecting only part of the area over which the legislature has authority, or general. Statutes that explain or clarify previous enactments or rules of common law are sometimes called declaratory statutes.

Legislative act restricting the time within which legal proceedings may be brought, usually to a fixed period after the occurrence of the events that gave rise to the cause of action. Such statutes are enacted to protect persons against claims made after evidence has been lost, memories have faded, or witnesses have disappeared. The periods prescribed for different actions in different jurisdictions vary considerably.

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(1931) Parliamentary statute that effected the equality of Britain and the then-dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland. It confirmed declarations made at British imperial conferences in 1926 and 1930 that the self-governing dominions were to be regarded as “autonomous communities within the British Empire.” United in their allegiance to the crown, the countries individually controlled their own domestic and foreign affairs as equal members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

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(1931) Parliamentary statute that effected the equality of Britain and the then-dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and Newfoundland. It confirmed declarations made at British imperial conferences in 1926 and 1930 that the self-governing dominions were to be regarded as “autonomous communities within the British Empire.” United in their allegiance to the crown, the countries individually controlled their own domestic and foreign affairs as equal members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Learn more about Westminster, Statute of with a free trial on Britannica.com.

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a country, state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from the judicial decisions of the common law and the regulations issued by Government agencies. Statutes are sometimes referred to as legislation or "black letter law". As a source of law, statutes are considered primary authority (as opposed to secondary authority).

Before a statute becomes law in some countries, it must be agreed upon by the highest executive in the government, and finally published as part of a code. In many countries, statutes are organized in topical arrangements (or "codified") within publications called codes, such as the United States Code. In the United States, statutory law is distinguished from and subordinate to constitutional law.

Alternative meanings

International law

The term statute is sometimes also used to refer to an International treaty that establishes an institution, such as the Statute of the European Central Bank, a protocol to the Treaty of Maastricht. This includes international courts as well, such as the Statute of the International Court of Justice and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Statute is also another word for law. The term was adapted from England in about the 18th century.

Biblical terminology

In biblical terminology, a Statute (Hebrew chok) refers to a law given without a reason. The classic example is the Statute regarding the Red Heifer, the reason for which, legend has it, defied even the wisdom of King Solomon.

The opposite of a chok is a mishpat, a law given for a specified reason, e.g. the Sabbath laws, which were given because "God created the world in six days, but on the seventh day He rested". (Genesis 2:2-3)

Autonomy Statute

In the Autonomous Communities of Spain the Autonomy Statute is a legal document similar in all but name to a state constitution in a federal state. The name was chosen because federalism was a taboo subject when the constitution of 1978 was approved.

References

See also

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