Effect of a Statute

Effect of a Statute


(or effect of another normative legal document), a concept that defines the limits of the compulsory nature of a law in time, in space, and in terms of persons. The effect of a statute is established either by general decrees or by special acts applicable to the particular law.

The effect of a statute in time is defined by the moment it goes into force (that is, when its prescriptions must be observed and applied) and the moment when it loses force. As a general rule, a law goes into force everywhere at the time established in the law itself. If no time is established in the law, then it goes into force after a certain interval of time subsequent to its publication in an official organ. For example, laws of the USSR (that is, all-Union laws) go into force ten days after their publication in Izvestiia or Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR. A very important rule concerning the effect of a statute in time is that “a law does not have retroactive force.” This means that the effect of a statute applies only to those relationships that arise after the law goes into effect. The effect of a statute ceases when the law is directly annulled, when a new law is issued on the same question, or when the period of action of the law expires, if it was issued for a definite period.

The effect of a statute in space is determined by territorial limits of the authority of the particular legislative body. (Usually, the territorial limits of authority include all ground and water area within the state boundaries, the air space above it, the interior part of the earth, the grounds of embassies and missions in other countries, and warships and merchant vessels on the open sea.) The laws of the USSR apply to all the territory of the USSR, and the laws of the Union republics apply to the territory of the given republic. In some instances it is stipulated that a law applies only in a certain region (for example, in the Far North). Where there is a discrepancy between the law of a Union republic and a law of the USSR, the law of the USSR is applied.

The effect of a statute with regard to persons is determined by the range of those agencies, organizations, and citizens who are obligated to observe and carry out the given law. As a general rule, a law applies to all persons in the territory of a given state, with certain exceptions stipulated in the law. For example, diplomatic representatives of foreign states are not under the jurisdiction of the Soviet courts in criminal cases (art. 4, Criminal Code of the RSFSR). At the same time, certain laws apply only to citizens of a given state, including those citizens who are abroad. Some laws apply only to foreigners and stateless persons. In view of the specific working condition of employees in various branches of the national economy and various occupations, laws are issued that apply only to a particular group of employees (for example, to workers in railroad transportation or to teachers).