Statutory law

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Statutory law or statute law is written law (as opposed to oral or customary law) set down by a legislature (as opposed to regulatory law promulgated by the executive branch or common law of the judiciary).

Statutes may originate with national, state legislatures or local municipalities. Statutes of lower jurisdictions are subordinate to the law of higher.

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." The entire body of codified statute is referred to as a "code," such as the United States Code, the Ohio Revised Code or the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated. The substantive provisions of the Act could be codified (arranged by subject matter) in one or more titles of the United States Code while the "effective date" provisions—remaining uncodified—would be available by reference to the United States Statutes at Large. 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.

Another example of statutes that are not typically codified is a "private law" that may originate as a private bill, a law affecting only one person or a small group of persons. 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 attention to be more fully considered by the parliament. The government may also seek to have a bill introduced unofficially by a backbencher so as not to create a public scandal; such bills may also be introduced by the loyal opposition — members of the opposition party or parties. Sometimes a private member's bill may also have private bill aspects, in such case the proposed legislation is called a hybrid bill.


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