Types of legal norms
Following are the types of the generally binding legal regulations applicable in the CR:
- EU directives, regulations, decisions (published in the Official Journey of the European Union),
- international treaties (published in the Collection of International Treaties of the Czech Republic),
- laws, regulations and government orders (published in the Collection of Laws of the Czech Republic),
- regulations issued by regional and municipal authorities (published in the regions’ journals of legal enactments, Collection of Legal Enactments of the Capital City of Prague, on official information boards of municipal authorities),
- other instruments referred to by legal enactments (e.g. accounting standards, Standard Classification of Products).
It is also necessary to bear in mind documents which, while not being a part of the generally binding legal regulations, nonetheless express the official position of a ministry (e.g. CR Ministry of Finance’s methodic instruction). Officials take these declarations into consideration when deliberating on issues within the legal framework.
Relations between legal norms
Legal regulations constitute kind of a tree of superior and subordinate regulations. Should a subordinate regulation contradict a superior one, provisions of the superior one prevail; contradictions are usually dealt with by the Constitutional Court. The following summary offers a simplified look at this hierarchy:
- international treaty has precedence over national legislation
- EU directives and regulations enjoy the same status as international treaties
- a law must not contradict CR Constitution and the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
- laws are adopted by the CR Parliament
- regulations and government orders are not adopted by Parliament; they are issued by relevant ministries or the government
- regulations and government orders only regulate issues to an extent specified by the law and must not be in contradiction of the law; each regulation must therefore refer to the law on which it is based
A law is valid from the day it is published in the Collection of Laws. The day when a law comes into force is usually specified by the text of the law itself. It is only as of this day that we abide by this law. This can be the day of publication, but usually it is a later date; e.g. tax laws are usually amended as of January 1.
Laws can later be amended. Such amendments are also published in the Collection of Laws and are also allocated a number. Amendments include information on which part of the law is being amended, as well as on how and when this change takes effect. Changes only are published with the amendment, not the entire modified text of the original law! If somebody takes the original version of the law and introduces the changes into it, he or she creates what is known as ‘the complete or consolidated text’, which is not, however, legally binding. Temporary provisions should also be kept in mind, often included among the closing paragraphs of a law and designed as temporary solution for the transition between two legal enactments.