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Lex specialis, in legal theory and practice, is a doctrine relating to the interpretation of laws and can apply in both domestic and international law contexts. The doctrine states that if two laws govern the same factual situation, a law governing a specific subject matter (lex specialis) overrides a law governing only general matters (lex generalis). The situation ordinarily arises with regard to the construction of earlier-enacted specific legislation when more general legislation is later passed. However, then, the doctrine called "lex posterior derogat legi priori" may also apply, the younger law overriding the older law.
It can be assumed that the legislators planned to override the previous legislation. There is also a view that conflicts of norms should be avoided by a systematic interpretation. The principle also applies to construction of a body of law or single piece of legislation that contains both specific and general provisions.
The name comes from the full statement of the doctrine, a legal maxim in Latin: Lex specialis derogat legi generali.
- International Principle of law Trans-Lex.org
- Zeller, Auslegung von Gesetz und Vertrag (Interpretation of law and contract; also Karl Larenz, Methodenlehre
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