(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 ?
8) After the general dawning of this realization, it was only natural that the mandatory retroactivity of judicial decisionmaking would come into doubt.
Carlton held that retroactive tax legislation must be "supported by a legitimate legislative purpose furthered by rational means" and gave meaning to that test by analyzing whether the legislative purpose was "illegitimate" or "arbitrary," whether the legislature acted "promptly," and whether the legislature established a "modest" period of retroactivity.
The issue of retroactivity of constitutional law decisions--that is, whether the effects of a pronouncement by the court should be applied to facts arising before the decision--has had quite a stormy history in Supreme Court jurisprudence.
This type of retroactivity is particularly problematic.
Nevertheless, the cases in which Teague bars retroactivity are not
The retroactivity and Mead limitations, however, do not garner any support from the originalist rationale for Seminole Rock deference.
Also problematic will be the issue of Windsor's retroactivity.
example is the law of retroactivity, which applies Gideon's
Finally, it said that international conventions stipulate that "those who were beneficiaries of such laws cannot invoke the prohibition of retroactivity of the harshest criminal law nor res judicata.
The law of due process notice--which includes the doctrines of vagueness, retroactivity, and the rule of lenity--evolved dramatically over the course of the New Deal to permit lesser clarity and to tolerate more retroactivity.
Referring to the major question of whether banks with legacy issues should be helped, or only those with new problems, Juncker observed that 'some degree of retroactivity in the mechanism' would have to exist as otherwise 'it would lose most of its sense.
We don't have any indication at this time that there will be any retroactivity applied," Tupone said.