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Substantive and Procedural Law

12. What is “substantive law” and “procedural law”?

A substantive law defines a legal relationship or prohibits certain conduct. That is, it says what you can or cannot do. For example, a state that says, “though shalt not steal”. This would be a substantive law. Procedural law, on the other hand, dictates how the substantive law is administered or carried out. For example, a state statute reads, “an individual has 30 days to file a response to a civil complaint.” This is a procedural law dictating how to carry out a civil action.

•    Discussion: What type of law says that you cannot intentionally take someone else’s property? What type of law says that you have to file a legal action, if at all, within 2 years of learning of the tortious conduct (legal violation)?

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