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Annotation. The article considers the concept and types of laws and regulations; defines their nature and characteristic features; focuses on “subordinate legislation” as the subject matter; pays special attention to specification and concretization of the norms of law.

Key words: regulatory legal act, subordinate legislation, normativity, legal force, creation of subordinate regulatory acts, norm of law, legal validity.


The regulatory legal acts are issued by the competent authorities in a form prescribed by the law. The regulatory act is an official document holding legally relevant information. In addition, any legislative act should contain strictly defined reference details demonstrating its relevance to the corresponding type of legislative instruments, for instance, distinguishing whether the particular act is a law or a resolution, as well as determining when and by whom it was adopted, when it entered into force, when it was signed etc.

As a whole, the full set of normative acts builds a legislative system in a generalized sense, when in the restricted sense of the word it is just a set of laws. According to the legal force criterion, the regulatory legal acts are divided into two groups: laws and regulations (or primary and subordinate legislation).

Subordinate legislation is a part of the general system of law sources in Ukraine, bearing major attributes and representing basic principles inherent in this system. Along with the principle of the rule of law, the strict hierarchy of the law sources is one of the most important system characteristics. The corresponding subordination of laws and regulations ensures their coherence, being one of the preconditions for implementation of the law. The hierarchy of the law sources means that they are subordinated in such a way that the sources of subordinated entities are derived from the supreme authorities and neither can contradict the later, nor amend or repeal them.

However, in practice, there are repeated cases of direct violations of provisions of the law, bypassing the laws or undesirable duplications of the regulatory acts. There are also instances of issuing subordinate acts in order to support very specific, unilateral administrative decisions protecting exclusively institutional interests. Therefore, it is necessary to study these acts, which are related primarily and directly to the analysis of the issues associated with the implementation process of the rule of law.

Such feature as subordination (“being delegated”) is inherent in most normative acts issued in Ukraine and is characteristic of law-making activities of the authorized entities. Nevertheless, the consistency of the legal regulation of social relations is primarily provided by the legislative instruments, expressing the goodwill of the State to adopt, amend or repeal legal norms.

A subordinate regulatory legal act is an act that is issued in conformity with the law and under the law to specify the legal regulations and their interpretation, or to establish the primary rules [4].

Subordinate feature of the normative legal acts does not imply they are less legally binding. However, their legal validity is not as universal and supreme as the laws are. At the same time, laws and regulations occupy an important place in the overall normative system as they ensure implementation of the laws by legal regulation of the whole complex of social relations.

Subordinate regulations are distinguished according to their legal validity, which depends on the position and competence of the state agencies issuing the acts, as well as nature and functions of these acts. The act issued by a lower state authority should not only “accord with the law”, but also “comply with” all the regulatory enactments of the supreme state bodies. For example, the acts of the Ministry of Education must not only comply with the Law on Education, but also with the normative acts issued by the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Finance [1].

There is an objective need in creation of subordinate legislation, and even small countries with long democratic traditions are not capable of existence without such practice. The reason is that:

1) executive authorities simply cannot function without regulatory powers;

2) a legislator is unable to foresee and regulate the entire set of many different social relations, which depend on the urban environment and time period, for those who are in need;

3) in comparison with the laws, bylaw regulations can respond much quicker to changes in the object of legal regulation and, therefore, allow to address with fewer losses most of the gaps in the law, which are associated with its amendment by a legislator;

4) any attempt to avoid secondary legislation in the legal regulation could not only cause an excessive burden on the legislative bodies and, therefore, a slowdown in the discussion and adoption of laws, but also affect the quality of the legislative process in general [3].

Subordinate acts provide a detailed application of the law and, thus, regulate the procedure of its implementation; they also specify the mechanism of its action, which has already been defined by the law, establish quantitative indices, norms and rapidly changing quotas, contain solutions to some specific matters, including those of procedural and enforcement nature. Meanwhile, in any lawful state, it is not allowed to repeal, amend or terminate a law by issuing a bylaw act. Sometimes, the subordinate acts settle the relations that are not regulated by any law. Obviously, the difference between the objects of legal control of the laws and regulations is not so much about qualitative indices, but more about quantitative measures of universality, importance and necessity of the elements constituting these relations.

The legal literature has several references to the subordinate acts: “adopted in execution of the law,” “adopted within the limits of authority granted by law”, “adopted under the law”. However, one formulation is the same for all of the subordinate acts: “on the basis of and in execution of the law,” all the other formulations derive from this one and are not specific in application for various law-making subjects. It is inadvisable to split the formulation “on the basis of and in execution of the law” into two separate parts because it is the whole of its components that provides us with a comprehensive view of what the subordinate legislation is, the purpose of such acts and their place in the system of legal sources [2].

The formulation “on the basis of and in execution of the law” derives from such concepts as the supreme legal force and the right of the priority. The supreme legal force reflects the inalterability of the law and other acts’ mandatory compliance with the specific law. The priority of the law is explained by the fact that it serves as the basis for the activities of rule makers, as well as for public bodies and direct authority of the People. The formulations about subordinate legislation demonstrate that subordinate acts must not only comply with the laws, but also with the other acts that have a relatively greater legal force. However, the basic requirement for the subordinate acts is their primary compliance with the laws. Otherwise, the very notion of subordinate legislation loses its meaning. Each subordinate act, directly or indirectly – through the acts of the supreme legal force, which must also comply with the general formulation of subordinate legislation – shall not contradict the acts of a relatively greater legal force.

The second part of the formulation – “in execution of the law” – is conditioned by the fact that through the general rule the law regulates the most important, typical and stable relations, when the subordinate acts manage relations that are more specific and change often. State legislative activity aims at securing basic legal principles and the most common legal norms. Subordinate acts make it possible to cover a large scope of details and particularities, which are not usually addressed in the main law. The rule of law (if not formulated casuistically) is a type of the general rule that should definitely be specified in other subordinate (to this particular norm) rules. It is often impossible to apply this particular norm directly to a specific life event. It requires further specification in compliance with other norms, which are general as well, but provide more details on the matter.

Specification and concretization of the norms of law may be demonstrated by both setting specific standards and adopting new regulatory enactments, and in some cases, even by adopting systems of such acts. Concretization of the statutory provisions in the subordinate acts provides an opportunity to consider the development of relations regulated and to make amendments within the limits of the law.

Subordinate rule making often provides examples of the contradictory concretization of constitutional and other types of legal provisions. Subordinate acts sometimes contain direct violations of the law or simply “bypass” its provisions. Such cases of “concretization” not only do not guarantee implementation of the norms of law, but also usually distort their social and legal content, provoke a decline in the prestige of the law and legality, damage the quality of legal education. Since similar cases of violations and distortion of the content are quite common and the corresponding damages or losses are constantly growing, it is very important to understand specific causes of breaches of the laws and distortion of legal consciousness of their authors, as well as to explore the mechanism for ensuring the legality of subordinate acts and the effectiveness of forms of constitutional control [2].

Considering the formulation “in execution of the law”, we should emphasize the fact that subordinate legislation constitutes an integral part of the system of legal sources in Ukraine, bearing its major characteristics and particularities. This system can be schematically represented in the following way: the Constitution is the Center of the System. Regulatory acts are radially arranged around the Center, providing specification and concretization of the constitutional provisions. As a rule, such acts reflect constitutional precepts, further developing and specifying them. Most acts of the first level take the form of laws. Then, further from the Center and following the acts specifying provisions of the Constitution, there are acts that could be called the acts of concretization and specification, as they mainly provide specifications and particularities of certain provisions of particular laws. It is at this specific level that the majority of acts become the subordinate acts.

Therefore, the main task of subordinate legislation is to serve as the instrument specifying the law and regulating the process of implementation of the law. It is not accurate to qualify subordinate legislation as simple adoption of the subordinate acts in direct compliance with other legal provisions. The law can directly prescribe the adoption of such normative acts; the law can contain a side reference to the requirement for adoption of a subordinate act by the authorized entity. The Labor Code of Ukraine stipulates the adoption of internal work regulations by the owner or other authorized entity upon consultation and in coordination with trade union committees of the enterprise, institution or organization.



  1. Kelman, M.S. and Murashin, O.G. (2011), Zahalna teoriya prava (zi skhemamy, krossvordamy, testamy): pidruchnyk [General theory of Law (with schemes, crosswords, tests): Textbook / M.S. Kelman] – Kyiv, Ukraine: Kondor, 2011. – 553 p.
  2. Kovalska, V.V. (2008), Poniattia, oznaky ta znachennia normatyvnopravovoho aktu MVS Ukrainy [The concept, features and value of the normative legal act of the MIA of Ukraine] // Forum Prava. – 2008.- No. – pp.237-242
  3. Kolodij, A.M. and Olijnyk, A.Yu. (2007), Derzhavne budivnytstvo i mistseve samovriaduvannia v Ukraini [The state construction and local government in Ukraine / A.M. Kolodij] – Kyiv, Ukraine: Yurinkom Inter, 2007. – 564 p.
  4. Kopiejchykov, V.V. (2000), Zahalna teoriya derzhavy i prava: Navchalnyj posibnyk [General theory of State and Law: Textbook / ed. V.V. Kopiejchykov] – Kyiv, Ukraine: Yurinkom Inter, 2000. – 320 p.



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