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Ley Sustantiva

Definition of Ley Sustantiva

It is that one that regulates behavior on some specific matters, or prohibits certain acts. In other words; It is the law that regulates the actions of citizens.

Set of norms that establish the rights and duties of citizens that are bound by an established legal order. Those who violate these rules may be prosecuted.


Ley sustantiva (Substantive Law) comes from the Latin term legisthat determines all the rules that govern a specific territory. Added to that, the word “substantive” is added, which implies “something that exists independently”. From this perspective, it denotes the basic laws that govern the behavior of the citizens of a place.

A Ley Sustantiva functions as a mechanism to grant a right or impose an obligation, punish its non-compliance and determines the procedure for its effectiveness.


In a state of law, the highest Ley Sustantiva is the Constitution or Magna Carta. This is the supreme Law that establishes, organizes and empowers the government of a nation under a system of fundamental principles for the fulfillment of the other laws.

While the Ley Sustantiva determines what can or cannot be done, the Adjective Law is in charge of determining how due process should be carried out and each important aspect within a trial.