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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Russell, which had allowed a newly enacted statute to operate retroactively. The statute at issue in that case had permitted parole for some nonviolent felonies, and the Supreme Court said it could be applied to previously convicted inmates because it didn't shorten their actual sentences or alter the law that created their original offenses.
"The issue presented on appeal in this case whether Covenant should be applied retroactively to those cases pending on direct appeal at the time it was decided is not factually distinguishable from our recent decision in W A Foote Mem Hosp.
The Act modifies and retroactively extends this election through 2016.
Sources from the working group told Dnevnik that at one of the discussions on this subject with facilitator Peter Vanhoutte, the representative of SDSM insisted that this law apply retroactively. She said, "There are people in jail for having provided wiretap material that was later used for the protection of the public interest".
It said 22 buildings that were originally constructed illegally are to be retroactively approved in Giv'on, near Givat Ze'ev.
Under the notice, qualified plans can be amended to reflect the outcome of Windsor for dates prior to June 26,2013; however, the IRS warns that this may trigger requirements, such as the ownership attribution rules, that are hard to implement retroactively. There may also be other unintended consequences.
Lane to determine whether Miller should be applied retroactively. Since Flowers is on collateral review, a case must establish a new substantive rule or a new "watershed" procedural rule to be applied retroactively.
Khalidi said: "The Parliament is convinced to pass the law retroactively, and no one can circumvent it because it is a constitutional," adding "if the three presidencies stayed for more than two terms, that would be a consecration of dictatorship" The media quoted informed sources in the Federal Court, as saying that "that the Supreme Court tends to make a decision to achieve the desire of the House of Representatives and at the same time satisfy the prime minister, that the law should not be applied retroactively." The House of Representatives passed, last Saturday, a law defining the mandates of the three presidencies in two sessions.
But some property owners will get a break on their bills--Brant is charging them retroactively for only up to three years of estimated costs, even less if they held the account for less than three years.
The Tax Court recently required an employee who was considered highly compensated under IRC Section 414(q) to include in his gross income the entire amount of his vested benefit in an employee stock ownership plan ("ESOP") that was retroactively disqualified.
(120/ 2004), treat the effects that ensued retroactively from the date of enforcing the aforesaid law and in light of tasking the Civil Service Ministry by the Council of Ministers in this regard, Sheikh Khalid bin Omar al-Marhoon, Civil Service Minister today met with the directors general of administrative and financial affairs, directors of financial affairs, directors of human resources in all governmental units governed by the Civil Service Law and its executive regulations in order to clarify the necessary mechanism and process controls required to put the Royal Directives into effect and discuss all matters pertaining to aspect.
Summary: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday dismissed as unfounded concerns by US business groups that revised Indian tax laws might make foreign investors retroactively liable for taxes dating back decades.