(redirected from retroactivity)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
Related to retroactivity: retroactive refit


Having reference to things that happened in the past, prior to the occurrence of the act in question.

A retroactive or retrospective law is one that takes away or impairs vested rights acquired under existing laws, creates new obligations, imposes new duties, or attaches a new and different legal effect to transactions or considerations already past. Common-law principles do not favor the retroactive effect of laws in the majority of cases, and canons of legislative construction presume that legislation is not intended as retroactive unless its language expressly makes it retroactive.

Retroactive criminal laws that increase punishment for acts committed prior to their enactments are deemed Ex Post Facto Laws and are unenforceable because they violate Article I, Section 9, Clause 3, and Section 10, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution and comparable provisions of state constitutions.


adj. referring to a court's decision or a statute enacted by a legislative body, which would result in an application to past transactions and legal actions. In criminal law, statutes which would increase penalties or make criminal activities which had been previously legal are prohibited by the Constitutional ban on ex post facto laws (Article I, Section 9). Most court decisions which change the elements necessary to prove a crime or the introduction of evidence such as confessions are usually made non-retroactive to prevent a flood of petitions of people convicted under prior rules. Nor can statutes or court decisions take away "vested" property rights or change contract rights. However, some decisions are so fundamental to justice they may have a retroactive effect, depending on the balance on stability of the law balanced against the public good. Retroactive is also called "retrospective." (See: ex post facto)


adjective affecting the past, beginning before, commencing before, effective before, having prior application, having prior effect, operational before, starting before, taking effect before
Associated concepts: ex post facto, retroactive effect
See also: ex post facto
References in periodicals archive ?
such circumstances, a bright-line rule prohibiting the retroactivity of
When the Commission amends the Sentencing Guidelines in a way that reduces sentencing ranges, it is statutorily required to consider retroactivity.
She said the retroactivity issue for Miller defendants is still in the air, and her office is handling oral arguments at the Florida Supreme Court on March 6.
The retroactivity and Mead limitations, however, do not garner any support from the originalist rationale for Seminole Rock deference.
In addition, the law of retroactivity provides an insight
Deciding the case on other grounds, the Supreme Court majority avoided the retroactivity issue.
By emphasizing outcome over process, the doctrine of retroactivity prioritizes substantive justice over precedent and may thus be understood as an act of "civil disobedience.
While the legislation enacted by Congress was silent on the issue of retroactivity, the ABA had no doubts in the matter: The answer was no, an opinion to which The Judge Advocate General, MG Hugh Overholt, reluctantly acceded.
The GLC called on ILO to refer this complaint before the syndical freedom committee and exert the best endeavors, in coordination with the Lebanese government, so as to enforce international labor laws and standards, ratify the wage adjustment retroactivity, and issue the transportation and education allowances decree as per the consensual agreement signed between the economic boards and the GLC.
1, 2011, as full retroactivity in this type of calculation is not recommended and could jeopardize the health of many small firms in rural areas.
Areas covered include the Administrative Procedure Act, adjudication procedures, retroactivity, agency structure, the Freedom of Information Act, and recovery of attorney's fees.
C explores implications of the Supreme Court's decision in Padilla and the standard for retroactivity under Teague v.