In the United States, a Uniform Act is a proposed state law drafted by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) and approved by its sponsor, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL).
Federalism in the United States traditionally limits the legislative authority of the federal government in favor of the states. Specifically, the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "...powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Therefore, state governments are free to enact unique laws in any area beyond the purview of federal preemption. However, a variety of legal issues regularly transcend state lines. In such cases, it is desirable to have a predictable and relatively uniform set of laws across states. "Uniform Acts" are collaboratively written model laws by which states may enact identical or similar laws.
Such laws are distinct from interstate compacts.
The NCCUSL is a body of lawyers, both private practitioners and government attorneys; judges, both state and federal; and law professors, typically appointed by the governor of each state. The NCCUSL drafts laws on a variety of subjects and proposes them for enactment by each state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. NCCUSL was established in 1892. The NCCUSL, while influential, does not have any direct legislative power itself; uniform acts become laws only to the extent they are enacted into law by state legislatures.
Among the most influential uniform acts are the Uniform Commercial Code, Uniform Probate Code, Uniform Trust Code, Uniform Partnership Act, Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act, Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Uniform Arbitration Act, Uniform Environmental Covenants Act, Uniform Conservation Easements Act, Uniform Management of Institutional Funds Act, Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. However, there are well over 100 uniform acts. NCCUSL periodically updates these acts. Recent examples include the Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, Revised Uniform Arbitration Act, Revised Uniform Partnership Act, Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, and the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act. The NCCUSL website should be consulted for the latest uniform acts or revisions thereof.
A state may adopt a uniform act as written by NCCUSL, or a state may adopt it with specific changes. Unless such changes are minor, they can seriously obstruct the goal of the uniform acts of promoting uniformity of law among the various states. Therefore, persons doing business in different states must always still check local law to ensure that (1) a uniform act was enacted in the state that governs a particular legal issue and (2) the local act actually conforms to the text promulgated by NCCUSL.
For example, in Payne v. Stalley, a lawyer relied on the official text of the Uniform Probate Code and failed to check the relevant Florida statute. As a result, the lawyer missed a filing deadline on a multi-million dollar claim. The court wrote, "[w]e cannot rewrite Florida probate law to accommodate a Michigan attorney more familiar with the Uniform Probate Code."
Non-NCCUSL model laws
Model Penal Code
Other model laws
The Uniform Auction and Auctioneer Licensing Act (2006) is a sample law, proposed by the National Auctioneers Association, intended to be used by states as a template when drafting their own legislation governing auctions and auctioneers.
Other notable non-NCCUSL model laws include the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, the Model Business Corporation Act, and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were intended to serve as a kind of model civil procedure system for the states, and have been adopted to some extent in 35 of them.
- United States Government Printing Office. "TENTH AMENDMENT ---- RESERVED POWERS ---- CONTENTS". gpo.gov.
- 672 So. 2d 822 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995)
- 672 So.2d at 823.
- NAA | NAA Drafts Sample Auction License Law and Encourages Adoption by State Legislatures