The term ‘sources of law’ is used in three senses:
On the basis of how the legal norms came about and the binding form in which they are expressed, four types of sources of law are traditionally distinguished:
International treaties are a source of domestic law if duly incorporated into the legal system of the Slovak Republic.
Customary law – legal custom
in the Slovak legal system, legal customs are valid as sources of law only if explicitly referred to in an act (the Civil Code refers to neighbourly customs), but this does not make them a formal source of law. They acquire the force of law from the act that refers to them.
As regards case-law, in Slovakia court judgments do not have general legally binding force. They are not a source of law. However, in passing judgments the courts follow rulings by the Slovak Supreme Court. Supreme Court rulings are nonetheless sources of law only de facto, rather than de iure.
One of the basic principles of the Slovak legal system is the hierarchy of norms. Understanding its proper place in legislative practice and implementation is hugely important from the point of view of legality. The hierarchy of norms is not, however, simply a question of straightforward logical precedence or subordination. Hierarchy relates to the whole issue of legitimate authority and also includes the categorical imperative that a legal provision may be laid down only by a body authorised to do so by an act within the limits of that act and its own legislative jurisdiction.
Legal provisions are classified by what is known as “legal force”. Legal force refers to the property of legal provisions whereby one provision is subordinate to another (i.e. to a provision with greater legal force) or one provision is derived from a provision having greater legal force. In a situation involving legal provisions with different legal force the weaker provision may not contradict the stronger one, whereas the stronger provision may override the weaker one.
In terms of the level of legal force, legal provisions may be hierarchically classified as follows:
A. Primary legislation (acts)
B. Secondary legislation (below the level of an act)
In the system of legal provisions, where a given act has precedence this basically means that all the other legal provisions must flow from the act, be compatible with it and not contradict it. This means that in practice, in a situation where a legal provision lower down the hierarchy contradicts a higher-ranking provision, it is the higher-ranking one that must be acted on.
General transformation requires that a given source of national law (usually the constitution or an act) should contain a provision making reference to the international law.
Special transformation requires two or more legal instruments to be adopted. The first is generally the parliamentary vote whereby the National Council of the Slovak Republic approves international political treaties, international economic treaties of a general nature and international treaties that require an act in order to be put into force. Second, there is the ratification of international treaties by the president, once they have been adopted by the parliament. Where the implementation of a treaty does not require an act, the procedure applied is confirmation by the government or individual members thereof rather than ratification. A third step is the promulgation of a ratified or confirmed international treaty in the Zbierka zákonov Slovenskej republiky (the Slovak Official Gazette).
Regulations are universally binding normative legal instruments.
Directives are binding only as to the results to be achieved by them.
Decisions are individual legal instruments binding only on the parties to whom they are addressed ; they take effect on the date stated in them or, if no such date is given, on the 20th day following their publication.
Recommendations and opinions are not legally binding.
National Council of the Slovak Republic – constitution, constitutional acts, acts, international treaties higher than acts, international treaties with the force of an act
Government of the Slovak Republic – government regulations
Ministries and other central government bodies - decrees, declarations and measures
Municipal and city authorities – generally binding regulations
Citizens (voters) of the Slovak Republic – results of a referendum with the force of a constitutional act, results of a referendum with the force of an act
Residents of a municipality or city – results of a local referendum with the force of a generally binding regulation
Municipal and city authorities and local government bodies – generally binding regulations
Stages of the legislative process
Under Section 87(1) of Act No 460/1992 (the Slovak Constitution), bills may be tabled by:
Bills submitted are set out paragraph by paragraph with an explanatory memorandum.
In accordance with the rules of procedure of the National Council of the Slovak Republic (Act No 350/1996), bills go through three readings.
The first reading involves a general debate on the substance or what is known as the “philosophy” of the proposed act. At this stage no amendments or additions may be tabled.
On the second reading the bill is discussed by the National Council committees to which it has been assigned. Every bill must pass through the Constitutional Committee, in particularly as regards its compatibility with the Slovak Constitution, constitutional acts, international treaties binding on the Slovak Republic, acts and European Union law. On the second reading amendments and additions may be tabled and these are voted on after the committee discussions are completed. This is why the various positions have to be brought together before discussion of the bill in the National Council; this is the job of the Coordination Committee, which then approves the committees’ joint report by special resolution. The report forms the basis for the National Council’s debate and vote on the second reading bill.
The third reading is restricted to those provisions of the bill for which amendments or additions were approved on the second reading. On the third reading the only changes members of parliament can put forward are corrections of legislative drafting errors and grammar and spelling mistakes. Amendments and additions intended to eliminate any other errors must be put forward by at least 30 members of parliament. Once these have been debated, the bill is voted on as a whole.
Legal provisions of nationwide territorial application are formally published in the Zbierka zákonov (Official Gazette) of the Slovak Republic; this publication falls within the remit of the Slovak Ministry of Justice. Normative legal instruments take effect on publication.
Given their restricted territorial application, local legal provisions are posted up on an official notice board for a given period, which is generally 15 days.
Where there is a conflict between legal provisions of equal force, the legal practice is to apply the principle that a more recent provision repeals or amends an older provision and the principle that a special rule repeals or amends a general rule.
The Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic oversees and rules on the compatibility of:
Where the Constitutional Court rules that there is incompatibility between legal provisions, the provisions or relevant parts thereof or rules contained therein cease to be effective. If the bodies that issued the provisions fail to bring them into line with the relevant higher-ranking instruments within the statutory time limit from when the ruling was issued, the provisions or relevant parts thereof or rules contained therein cease to be in force.Top
Last update: 22-05-2006