What Is Statutory Law (Explained: All You Need To Know) (2023)

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What Is Statutory Law

Statutory law refers to the body of laws that are adopted by the legislative branch and expressed in writing.

In other words, statutory law is essentially laws that are written down and formally adopted by the government.

For example, the Uniform Commercial Code adopted by a state represents statutory law as it is a law (or statute) that is validly adopted by the state.

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Statutory law can be opposed to regulatory law which is adopted by the executive branch and common law which is derived from the judiciary.

For a statute to be adopted, the legislative branch follows its usual legislative process where a bill is proposed and approved and then it is ultimately signed by the executive branch.

Statutes are in writing and made available for the entire public to view.

Generally, when a statute is adopted, it will take effect from the date determined within the statute.

Keep reading as I will further explain to you the meaning of statutory law and why it’s important.

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Why Statutory Law Is Important

Statutory law is important for everyone and anyone living in society.

Essentially, they represent a large body of laws governing most aspects of our lives.

Essentially, the legislative branch has enacted countless laws dealing with things like commercial activities, competition, environment, family matters, traffic, workplace safety, and so on.

In the United States, you can have statutes adopted at the federal level, state level, or local level.

Consequently, individuals and businesses subject to statutory laws must comply with the laws, bills, and codes applicable to them.

Once a statute is adopted, the courts are given the power to enforce the statute.

Unlike common law, the judicial branch is required to interpret statutes based on strict interpretations and avoid a liberal interpretation.

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Types of Statutory Laws

Statutory laws generally refer to laws that are in writing and codified where they are numbered, indexed, and consolidated into one place.

We can further divide statutory laws into different types, namely declaratory statutes, remedial statutes, temporary statutes, perpetual statutes, affirmative statutes, negative statutes, personal statutes, real statutes, and mixed statutes.

A declaratory statute takes a certain aspect of the common law and clarifies the parties’ rights and obligations.

Remedial statutes are used to further clarify or expand on statutes that are already in place.

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Temporary statutes are those that are valid for a certain period of time before expiring.

Perpetual statutes are those that do not have an expiry date set within the statute.

Affirmative statutes are those that use affirmative statements without taking anything away from common law.

Negative statutes are those that use negative statements without taking anything away from the common law.

Personal statutes are those that deal with an individual starting from birth to death.

Real statutes are those that deal with property and objects that we could own or possess.

Mixed statutes are those that deal with both personal and real aspects.

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How Statutory Laws Are Created

In the United States, statutory laws are adopted by following specific legislative processes.

The first step is for the legislative branch to propose a bill.

Then, the bill is presented to the entire legislative body which will either approve or reject the bill.

If the bill is rejected, it will be amended and brought back for a vote again.

If the bill is approved, it will then be sent to the executive branch for signature.

The executive branch at the federal level is the US President and the Governor at the state level.

The executive branch has the right to veto the adoption of the bill into law and return it back to the legislative branch.

Alternatively, the executive branch can sign the bill into law.

The moment the bill is signed by the President or the Governor, the statute is formally adopted and will start taking effect as of the moment stipulated in the statute.

Federal law applies to the entire country, state laws apply within the state, and local laws or city laws apply locally.

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Statutory Laws FAQ

What does statutory law refer to?

Statutory law is the primary type of law used by the judicial system to define and interpret a person’s rights and obligations.

Statutory laws are those that are in written form and adopted by the legislative branch.

Everyone in society is required to obey statutory laws governing all aspects of our lives.

What are the different types of laws?

There are different types of laws that apply to our day-to-day lives and activities.

Statutory laws are those that are enacted by the legislative branch.

Administrative laws and regulations are laws created by the executive branch.

Common law is the body of laws created by the judicial branch.

Both administrative laws and common law can become statutory laws if they are written down and officially passed by the legislative body.

What is a statute?

A statute refers to a law that is enacted by the legislature.

For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is a federal statute that applies in the United States.

In essence, a statute is the formal enactment of legislative authority governing a particular territory such as a country, state, city, town, municipality, or other.

What is not statutory law?

If a body of laws is not specifically created by following the legislative process through elected representatives, then it is not statutory law.

For instance, common law is not statutory as it is a body of laws created over time by the courts in dealing with various cases, principles, and precedents.

Administrative law is not statutory law as it represents a body of laws adopted by the executive agencies defining their own rules and processes within their legally awarded jurisdiction.

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So there you have it folks!

What does statutory law mean?

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In a nutshell, statutory law refers to the body of laws that are written and officially enacted by the legislative branch of the government.

For example, traffic laws are written and published by the government so everyone is made aware of their content.

As such, traffic laws are considered statutory laws as they are statutes governing traffic in a certain territory.

Statutes are proposed by the legislative branch and then signed into law by the executive branch.

Then, the judicial branch is tasked with the interpretation of the laws by applying the statute to different cases that are presented to it.

Now that you know what statutory laws refer to and how they work, good luck with your research!

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(Video) Statutory vs Common Law


What is statutory law and example? ›

In their most basic form, statues are written laws that can be looked up or located in databases or books. These come in the form of bills or acts. Common examples of statutory law include traffic violations like running a red light and the minimum legal drinking age of 21, to name a few.

What are the four types of statutory law? ›

View all notes statutory law within a legal order can appear in three different forms: (1) written formal law, (2) law for the community and (3) non-public law.

What are the 2 types of statutory law? ›

Statutory Law. Statutory law can be found in two types of publications: compilations of statutes or codified laws. Both the compilations and the codes have the same wording, but their formats are different.

What is the characteristic of statutory law? ›

Statutory law is law that's written by a legislative body. It's law that a government deliberately creates through elected legislators and an official legislative process. It's up to the judiciary to interpret and enforce statutory law, but the judiciary can't create statutory law.

What is statutory law in simple words? ›

Statutory law or statute law is written law passed by a body of legislature. This is opposed to oral or customary law; or regulatory law promulgated by the executive or common law of the judiciary. Statutes may originate with national, state legislatures or local municipalities.

What is statutory law for dummies? ›

Statutory Law is law established by an act of the legislature that is signed by the executive. For federal statutory law, the acts are passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States. For state law, the acts are passed by the state legislature and signed by the state governor.

What is the difference between common law and statutory law? ›

The main difference between common law and statutory law is that common law is based on past judicial opinions, while statutory law is based on current statutes (written laws).

What is the difference between legal and statutory? ›

You might wonder what the difference is between statutory and legal. Both are adjectives and both are concerned with the law. If something is legal, it is allowed by the law, whereas if it is statutory, it is regulated by law.

What is statutory law primarily based on? ›

Basis for common law and statutory law

Common law is by far and wide based on judgments made in the past over hundreds of years. Statutory laws have statutes as their basis.

Which is the highest form of statutory law? ›

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land. No federal or state law may violate it. Federal laws (statutes), enacted by the United States Congress, must be followed by every state in the country.

How are statutory laws made? ›

Statute law

A bill becomes a law after it has been passed in the same form by the House of Representatives and the Senate and is given Royal Assent by the Governor-General. It is then called an Act of Parliament. For a bill to be passed, it must be agreed to by a majority vote in both houses of Parliament.

What are examples of statutes? ›

A statute is a law enacted by a legislature. Statutes are also called acts, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Why statutory is important? ›

Statutory compliance is important to prevent legal troubles. Companies can be fined monetarily as well as be tried in a court of law, depending on the scale of non-compliance.

What is the importance of statutory? ›

Statutory records is one of the guidelines secondary schools are expected to keep. School managers and administrators on their own depend much on these statutory records for their day-to-day administrations. Therefore, the success or failure of our secondary school depend much on the proper keeping of these records.

What are the 3 rules and principles for statutory interpretation? ›

This fundamental rule has been treated as effectively an amalgam of three "classic rules of interpretation": the "Mischief Rule" that considers legislative intent; the "Literal Rule" that considers the "textual meaning"; and. the "Golden Rule" that considers the "entire context" including established legal norms.

Who creates a statutory law? ›

Statute Law is the law made by Parliament. It is introduced in a Bill and, if passed, becomes an Act.

What is the other term of statutory law? ›

Some common synonyms of statute are canon, law, ordinance, precept, regulation, and rule. While all these words mean "a principle governing action or procedure," statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body.

When did statutory law start? ›

It was only in the 1870s that the first codification of federal statutes was approved by Congress. This predecessor to the U.S. Code, first published in 1875, is known as the Revised Statutes of the United States.

What is statutory law in USA? ›

Statutory law in the United States consists of the laws passed by the legislature. For the federal government, then, the statutory law is the acts passed by the United States Congress. These acts are designated as Public Laws or Private Laws.

What is statutory law vs common law examples? ›

The main difference between common law and statutory law is that common law is based on past judicial opinions, while statutory law is based on current statutes (written laws). Examples of statutory laws include traffic laws like driving on a suspended license, drug laws like those regarding drug possession, etc.

Which is the best example for statutory right? ›

Examples of employees' statutory rights include:
  • A written statement of employment within two months of commencing employment.
  • Payment at or above the national minimum wage.
  • Paid sick leave, maternity, paternity or adoption leave, and holiday.
  • A maximum work week of 48 hours.
  • Antenatal care.
Feb 4, 2016

What is an example of a statutory law in healthcare? ›

In statutory law Congress has provided broad rights to health care for the elderly, disabled, people living in poverty, and children by establishing Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP.

What is the main source of US statutory law? ›

Statutory Law

Most statutes are written and voted into law by the legislative branch of government. This is simply a group of individuals elected for this purpose. The US legislative branch is called Congress, and Congress votes federal statutes into law.

Is statutory the same as legal? ›

You might wonder what the difference is between statutory and legal. Both are adjectives and both are concerned with the law. If something is legal, it is allowed by the law, whereas if it is statutory, it is regulated by law.

Why does statute law prevail over common law? ›

Statute law always prevails over common law if there is a conflict. The common law relies on the principle of precedent. This means that courts are to be guided by previous decisions of courts, particularly courts that have higher authority.

Why is statute law different to common law? ›

Common law

If no past cases with similar circumstances exist, a new decision is made, which would then become a precedent for a future similar case. If no statute law applies to cover a particular situation, common law will apply; however, statute law always overrides common law.

What is the purpose of statutory rights? ›

Statutory rights are an individual's legal rights, given to him or her by the local and national ruling government. These are generally designed to protect citizens. They are typically enforced by local law enforcement, and their violation usually carries a penalty of legal prosecution and punishment.

What affects your statutory rights? ›

Statutory consumer rights: a definition

The law stipulates a retailer is obliged to provide goods that are of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. If customers discover a defect upon receipt of goods or services, their statutory rights on faulty goods apply.


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