Legal act

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A legal act is a legal act that aims to create a legal consequence . The opposite is the real act .


Human action can be divided according to whether it is a general action (such as closing an apartment door) or a legally significant action (such as closing a shop door when the shop closes), in the latter case it is called a legal act. The human being as a legal subject is confronted with the law by subjecting himself to its legal consequences by virtue of his will through legally relevant action. Also in Roman law there were generally acts ( Latin actiones ), which included the legal act ( Latin actus iuridicus ), the legal transaction ( Latin negotium iuridicum ) and the unlawful act ( Latin actus illicitus ). The Pure Theory of Law defines Hans Kelsen , according to the act as "an act by which a legal norm set (generated figuratively speaking) or applied".

The content of the legal consequence can be abstract ( general order or legal norm ) or specific to an individual case ( individual order , individual decision ). The legal act can be issued in writing , orally or by implication (through consistent conduct).


A general distinction is made between sovereign ( sovereign act ), official and private legal acts.

Not every legal act based on public law is a sovereign act, only that issued by a state authority . The appointment is an act which is aimed at the nature or content of the civil servant to be determined.

Legal effects

Acts with legal force deploy legal effects for the general public (law), or only between parties (contractors), which have to submit to the parties concerned. Legal norms can only arise through precisely defined legal acts (such as laws, statutes or judgments). If a legal act indirectly produces legal effects through legal principles, it remains non-binding itself and therefore does not constitute a legislative act. A legal act is ineffective if it was initially effective, but becomes ineffective due to later events and it is not possible to cure it.


The Community law consists of the primary law ( Treaty on European Union ), secondary legislation (acts of the EU ) and EU international agreements with other states / organizations. Legal acts of secondary law are published in the Official Journal of the European Union (L and C series). In European law an act of the EU as a legal act is ( English juridical act ), respectively. According to Art. 288 TFEU there are binding legal acts ( EU regulations , EU directives , EU decisions ) and non-binding legal acts ( recommendations , statements ). The binding legal act is a "legal act with the character of a regulation" (cf. Art. 263 (4) TFEU). The term “legal act with regulatory character” according to Art. 263 (4) TFEU is to be understood as meaning “that it covers every act of general application with the exception of legislative acts”. The only decisive factor for the EU legal act is that there is a legally relevant act.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Paul Geyer / Monika Schmitz-Emans (eds.): Proteus im Spiegel , 2003, p. 146
  2. Hans Kelsen: What is a legal act? , in: Austrian Journal for Public Law, Volume 4, Issue 3, 1952, pp. 263–274.
  3. Thorsten Franz: Introduction to Administrative Science , 2015, p. 307 f.
  4. ECJ , Case T-18/10 (Inuit), full text , Slg 2011, II-5599 margin no. 56
  5. Ines Härtel: Handbook European Legislation , 2006, p. 10.