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What Is Substantive Law?

Laws are usually described in terms of the area or situations they address. Substantive law addresses the issue of rights and responsibilities. It is a written law that informs people of their rights and responsibilities with regards to other people, to society, and to the state.

Substantive law is generally definitive and prescriptive in nature in contrast with procedural laws. Unlike substantive laws, procedural laws address how substantive laws are applied or enforced. Both substantive and procedural laws make up the main branches or descriptions of law. Both are necessary for one or the other’s effectiveness in maintaining order in a state or country.

Substantive law encompasses both criminal and civil law since it defines the boundaries, limitations, and exceptions. For instance, substantive law addresses what types of felonies and misdemeanors exist as well as the punishment for violations thereof while procedural law addresses how violations of these crimes can be punished.

In order to pass substantive laws, it must go through a lengthy process of drafting, editing, and voting in the legislature before the president can approve it. However, substantive law can also come to pass through an initiative wherein the public can vote on its passing into codification.

There are instances when substantive law can be repealed. Such instances are only done when it is proven that the law is antiquated or is unnecessary. When these instances occur, a process is undergone in order to rescind the specific law so as to ensure that substantive law is clear and concise.

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