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What Is a Substantive Law?

Different kinds of laws exist to provide people a set of rules and guidelines. However, there remains to be a general categorization of law. Law can be classified into 2 basic branches, substantive law and procedural law. Substantive law is the area of law that provides for the rights and duties of people and other legal entities.


Substantive law is a general category of law, and thus can cover other smaller areas of law. This may include private and public law relating to contracts, real estate property, torts, and even criminal justice. This is because substantive law is based on common law and legislative statutes. Thus, as the volume of legislative statutes increases, so does the volume of substantive law.


However, during the turn of the 20th century, substantive laws replaced various statutes that were based on conservative legal principles. This allows for greater consistency among all the laws and legal concepts that are applied in various fields and industries such as business, commerce, etc. It must also be noted that some substantive law concepts are similar or the same as procedural law concepts. Despite this, the essential difference between substantive law and procedural law is that the former provides the definition of crimes or offenses and how such are to be charged and handled while the latter provides for the process leading to the trial and the trial itself. For example, the definition of murder is due to substantive law while a person’s right to due process upon charge of murder is due to procedural law.

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