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What Are Retrospective & Prospective Effect In Law?


In General, The Word retrospective means a look back at events that took place, or works that were produced, in the past. As a noun, retrospective has specific meanings in medicine, software development, popular culture, and the arts. It is applied as an adjective, synonymous with the term retroactive, to laws, standards, and awards. In Law, the term is used in situations where the law (statutory, civil, or regulatory) is changed or reinterpreted, affecting acts committed before the alteration. When such changes make a previously committed lawful act now unlawful in a retroactive manner, this is known as an ex post facto law or retroactive law. Because such laws punish the accused for acts that were not unlawful when committed, they are rare, and not permissible in most legal systems.


Although, The dictionary meaning of the word prospective with reference to statutes shows that it is concerned with or applying the laws in the future or at least from the date of commencement of the statute. Whereas the word retrospective, when used with reference to an enactment, may mean:


1. Effecting an existing contract or

2. The reopening of the past closed and completed transactions, or

3. Affecting accrued rights and remedies, or

4. Affecting procedure.


In Simple Terms, the retrospective effect is when a law that retroactively makes criminal an act that was not criminal at the time it was done. And A law is said to be prospective (as opposed to retrospective) when it is applicable only to cases that shall arise after its enactment.

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