Substantive and procedural law

The system of law distinguishes two groups of legal communities – substantive and procedural law.

Substantive law directly regulates subject, material relations, and procedural law – the procedure for implementing norms of substantive law, rights and obligations of subjects of legal relations.

Substantive law is represented by the majority of branches – civil, criminal, labor, family, administrative, international and others. At the same time, new branches and subsectors are being formed, for example, municipal law as part of constitutional law, insurance law as part of civil law, space and nuclear law as part of international law.

Among the branches of substantive law there are primary and secondary (derivative) branch formations. Some scientists recognize the existence of complex branches of law. Others believe that only acts of legislation may be complex, as they combine material with different subject and different methods of regulation, and branches of law should have only one subject and one method of regulation.

The procedural law, having much in common with the material law, at the same time differs from it. The main differences are as follows.

Procedural law:

  • represents a service branch, organizational, as it regulates legal procedures designed to ensure the activity of state and other bodies and officials, adequate application of norms of substantive law.
  • It attaches legal significance to certain types of activity as it is ensured by state coercion and in cases of non-compliance with the established procedure may entail the recognition of a legal act as invalid;
  • it is aimed at achieving a specific legal result – protection of a subjective right, creation of a normative legal act, issuance of a law enforcement act, election of deputies, etc;
  • regulates public relations, which are already legal under the influence of the norms of substantive law.

Substantive law, regulating social relations, gives them a legal form.

Procedural law, in spite of its service nature, is commonly referred to fundamental, basic legal categories, as without this law it is impossible to ensure legality in the activities of individual bodies and persons, the procedure for implementing norms of material law by them.