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Statute of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, written in Polish

A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city or country.<ref name=Blacks>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy.<ref name=Blacks/> Statutes are laws made by legislative bodies and distinguished from case law which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies.<ref name=Blacks/> Statutes are sometimes referred to as legislation or "black letter law." As a source of law, statutes are considered primary authority (as opposed to secondary authority).

Ideally all statutes must be in harmony with constitutional law or the fundamental law of the land.

This word is used in contradistinction to the common law. Statutes acquire their force from the time of their passage, unless otherwise provided. Statutes are of several kinds; namely, Public or private. Declaratory or remedial. Temporary or perpetual. A temporary statute is one which is limited in its duration at the time of its enactment. It continues in force until the time of its limitation has expired, unless sooner repealed. A perpetual statute is one for the continuance of which there is no limited time, although it may not be expressly declared to be so. If, however, a statute which did not itself contain any limitation is to be governed by another which is temporary only, the former will also be temporary and dependent upon the existence of the latter.<ref>Bouvier Law Dictionary, Revised Sixth Edition, 1856</ref>

Before a statute becomes law in some countries, it must be agreed upon by the highest executive in the government, and finally published as part of a code. In many countries, statutes are organized in topical arrangements (or "codified") within publications called codes, such as the United States Code. In many nations statutory law is distinguished from and subordinate to constitutional law.


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