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Legislation (or "statutory law") is law which has been promulgated (or "enacted") by a legislature or other governing body. The term may refer to a single law, or the collective body of enacted law, while "statute" is also used to refer to a single law. Before an item of legislation becomes law it may be known as a bill, which is typically also known as "legislation" while it remains under active consideration.

In some jurisdictions, legislation must be confirmed by the executive branch of government before it enters into force as law. Under the Westminster system, an item of legislation is known as an Act of Parliament after enactment. Legislation is usually proposed by a member of the legislature (e.g. a member of Congress or Parliament), or by the executive, whereupon it is debated by members of the legislature and is often amended before passage. Most large legislatures enact only a small fraction of the bills proposed in a given session. Whether a given bill will be proposed and enter into force is generally a matter of the legislative priorities of government.

Those who have the formal power to create legislation are known as legislators, while the judicial branch of government may have the formal power to interpret legislation (see statutory interpretation).


[edit] Alternate means of law-making

The act of making legislation is sometimes known as legislating. Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the law-making function is primarily the responsibility of the legislature. However, there are situations where legislation is enacted by other means (most commonly when constitutional law is enacted). These other forms of law-making include referenda and constitutional conventions. The term "legislation" is sometimes used to describe these situations, but other times, the term is used to distinguish acts of the legislature from these other lawmaking forms.

The interpretation of law by the executive branch or the judiciary has been contended by some to be law-making, particularly when the judicial branch must address laws that appear to conflict (such as constitutional and statutory law). The extent to which the courts may be seen to "legislate" in this manner informs the ongoing contemporary debate concerning judicial activism (which may be contrasted with judicial restraint). Judicial law-making is not generally referred to as "legislation", however, except ironically. Also, some country's laws will empower the executive branch or other government agency to issue regulations or decrees which can carry the force of law, although this is also generally not considered legislation, per se. Legislation can also be created at provincial and local levels of government (which have their own legislatures), where separation of powers may be less formal and complete.

[edit] Legislative history

The record of events and public statements of legislators that explain the reasons for the law and its expected meaning are called "legislative history". Often, this will include formal speeches or writings made by the bill's sponors and chief critics. Courts often refer to legislative history in interpreting legislation, in order to discern "legislative intent" -- or what legislators meant for the law to mean. However, there is a prevalent minority view among some judges that laws should be interpreted solely according to their text, and without regard to legislative intent. This debate is complicated by the fact that legislators will sometimes craft the text of a law to be intentionally obscrure or vague as part of a political compromise, and that in a large legislative body, most of those who vote in favor of a bill will not have read the bill's full legislative history, or, indeed, the bill itself.

[edit] Legislation in various jurisdictions

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Core Subjects Contract Law | Tort Law | Obligations | Property law | Trusts | Public Law | Criminal Law
Public international law | Conflict of Laws | European Union Law

Further Disciplines Commercial law | Company law | Intellectual property | Unjust enrichment | Restitution
Tax law | Banking law | Competition law | Consumer protection | Environmental law | Public services
Labour law | Human rights | Immigration law | Social security | Family law | Evidence

Legal systems Common law | Civil law | Religious law | Customary law | Socialist law | Comparative law

Legal Theory History of Law | Ma'at | Babylonian Law | Roman Law | Arthashastra | Magna Carta
Jurisprudence | Positivism | Natural law | Formalism | Feminist theory
Critical legal studies | Economic analysis of law | New institutional economics

Legal Institutions Judiciary | Legislature | Executive | Military and Police | Bureaucracy | Civil society | Legal profession

[edit] See also

ja:立法 ms:Perundangan


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