Business Law: Codes, Regulations, Statutes

Research guide for students enrolled in Business Law classes.

Codes, Regulations, Statutes

Codes refer to statutes (see statutes tab) that have been "codified" or organized by subject.  

Federal laws passed by Congress that are of a 'general and permanent' nature, have been compiled into two codes:  Revised Statutes of the United States and the United States Code.  Revised Statutes includes statutes enacted from 1789 through 1873. 

The United States Code was first published in 1926; a new edition is printed every six years and supplemented annually.  The United States Code is currently organized into 53 subject titles (titles 1­­-52 and 54, with title 53 in reserve).  It includes an index, a popular names table, and other supplementary tables. (Library of Congress, Codified Law).

The U.S. Code does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies, decisions of the Federal courts, treaties, or laws enacted by State or local governments. Regulations may be found under the regulations tab.  

 

Regulations are issued by executive branch agencies, such as the EPA, OSHA, BLM.  

Federally adopted regulations may be found in the Code of the Federal Register.  

Proposed regulations may be found in the Federal Register. 

All fifty states also issue regulations. Pennsylvania issues its regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Statutes are laws made and passed by legislative bodies.  

"Technically, a 'statute' is an individual law, the equivalent of a Federal "Public Law" or "Private Law," also known in many states as 'Chapter Laws' or, more generally, as 'Session Laws.' "  (Zimmerman's Research Guide, LexisNexis). 

Statutes, legislative laws, or statutory laws, are distinguished from case law, which are court interpretations of the statutes.  Statutes also differ from regulations, or regulatory laws, which are issued by government agencies.

"Federal statutes are published in three formats: 

  1. initially as individual slip laws;
  2. in compilations of slip laws known as session laws;
  3. as codified law incorporated into a code, or organized by subject.  

"Slip laws are individually paginated pamphlets, each containing a single statute.  Session laws compile the slip laws enacted in a session of Congress"  (Library of Congress, Researching Federal Statutes).

In codified statutes, superseded statutes are updated and repealed statutes are removed.  Codified statutes may be found under the Codes tab.

Annotated statutes provide the statute and also references to other related legal materials, including secondary sources, attorney general opinions, legal forms, and more.   

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