CONTRIBUTION A LA THEORIE DE LA RETROACTIVITE DES LOIS
AbstractThe temporal application of statutes is often made unnecessarily difficult by reason of terminological ambiguity and conceptual fuzziness. This article tries to shed some light on some terminological and conceptual aspects of the theory of the retroactive operation of statutes . At the terminological level, the author focuses on the ambiguity of expressions like "application period of a statute" and "retroactivity of a statute", and makes some recommendations in order to avoid certain misunderstandings . At the conceptual level, an operational definition of the retroactivity of statutes is offered, as well as a method for identifying instances of retroactivity. This method rests on the identification of the rule of law which is to be applied and the determination of the temporal position of the facts to which the rule in question attaches legal consequences. The concept of retroactive effect is also analyzed. Evidently, a statute cannot have the effect of reversing the flow of time: what is done is done, and retroactive effect, in the sense of an action on past facts or conduct, is an illusion. Rather, retroactive effect can be seen as a legal fiction, whose duration, subjects and purpose are discussed.
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