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Statutory Law: A Comprehensive Overview

Statutory Law: A Comprehensive Overview

Statutory law, also known as statute law, is the law created by a legislature. It is one of the two main types of law, the other being common law. Statutory law is typically written down in codes, which are collections of statutes organized by subject matter.

Statutory law is created through the legislative process, which involves the introduction of a bill into the legislature, debate and amendment of the bill, and ultimately a vote on the bill. If the bill is passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by the executive (e.g., the president or governor), it becomes law.

Statutory law can be used to create new laws, to amend existing laws, or to repeal laws that are no longer needed. It can also be used to create new government agencies, to establish new programs and policies, and to regulate the conduct of individuals and businesses.

Statutory law is a powerful tool that governments can use to achieve their goals. However, it is important to note that statutory law is not the only type of law. Common law, which is law created by judges through their decisions, also plays an important role in many legal systems.

Examples of statutory law

Here are a few examples of statutory law:

  • Criminal law, such as laws that prohibit murder, theft, and assault
  • Civil law, such as laws that govern contracts, property, and torts
  • Regulatory law, such as laws that regulate the sale of food and drugs, the environment, and the financial system
  • Social welfare law, such as laws that provide for Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance

Statutory law in the United States

In the United States, the federal government and state governments each have their own legislatures, so there is both federal and state statutory law. Federal statutory law is found in the United States Code, which is a collection of all the laws passed by Congress. State statutory law is found in the state codes, which are collections of all the laws passed by the state legislatures.

Statutory interpretation

Courts are often called upon to interpret statutory law. This involves determining the meaning of a statute and applying it to the facts of a particular case. When interpreting a statute, courts typically consider the following factors:

  • The plain language of the statute
  • The legislative history of the statute, including the debates and reports that led to its passage
  • The purpose of the statute
  • The related statutes and case law


Statutory law is a complex and important body of law. It is important to understand the basics of statutory law in order to navigate the legal system and to protect your rights.

Additional information

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about statutory law:

  • Statutory law is often more specific than common law. For example, a statute may define a particular crime in detail, while common law may only provide a general definition.
  • Statutory law can override common law. If a statute and a common law rule conflict, the statute will prevail.
  • Statutory law can be amended or repealed by the legislature that enacted it.
  • Statutory law can be challenged in court on a variety of grounds, such as vagueness, overbreadth, and unconstitutionality.
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