The Wicked Encyclopedia

Statutory Law

Find a term:
Find Terms & Definitions.


The written law established by enactments expressing the will of the legislature, as distinguished from the unwritten law or common law.

Statutory Law or Statute Law is written law. It is created and passed by the legislative branch of the government. These ‘statutes’ are numbered, collected and indexed in one place. After statutory law is created, it is the judicial branch of the government’s job to interpret and enforce it by applying it to court cases. Statutory laws are written precisely and therefore leave little to no room for interpretation.

When creating a statutory law, a legislative body first proposes a bill. The ‘bill’ is then voted on by the entire legislative body. If the ‘bill’ passes, it is sent on to the executive branch of the government The executive branch could be the President of the United States or governor of a state. The executive branch then has the choice to pass the law or veto it. If the executive branch passes the law, the law becomes a ‘statute’, or statutory law and is numbered and indexed.

Public Statutes

In the common law tradition, courts decide the law applicable to a case by interpreting statutes and applying precedents which record how and why prior cases have been decided. Unlike most civil law systems, common law systems follow the doctrine of stare decisis, by which most courts are bound by their own previous decisions in similar cases. According to stare decisis, all lower courts should make decisions consistent with the previous decisions of higher courts. 

Private Statutes

Case law, used interchangeably with common law, is law that is based on precedents (previous judicial decisions) rather than law based on constitutions constitutions, statutes, or regulations. Case law uses the detailed facts of a case that have been resolved by courts or similar tribunals. These past decisions are called “case law”, or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning “let the decision stand”—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions.

Source: |