a Comparative Perspective
Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series
Chapter 2: The past and present of sunset clauses and experimental legislation
Temporary legislation is a broad term used to refer to different forms of temporary legislation and regulations, such as temporary effects legislation, emergency legislation, sunset clauses and experimental legislation. The terms ‘temporary legislation’ ‘Gesetzgebung auf Zeit’ (in Germany) or ‘tijdelijke wetgeving’ (in the Netherlands) stand for laws and regulations that terminate at the end of a period established beforehand, except if the legislator decides otherwise. As introduced in Chapter 1, temporary laws are not enacted on a systematic basis in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, but they are no rarity. In these three jurisdictions, temporary laws appear to serve specific purposes. Temporary legislation is often regarded as an extraordinary tool or even a ‘necessary evil’ for problems that permanent legislation would not be able to solve. To illustrate, a rapid legislative response to calamities or to political instability requires extraordinary but temporary measures (for example, curfew laws) and cannot afford to wait for the end of the bureaucratic legislative process. Temporary laws can, however, be employed for a number of other less common reasons, including the production of information, resolution of uncertainties or search for political consensus. In this chapter, two types of temporary legislation and their functions are ‘demystified’: sunset clauses and experimental legislation. Both legislative instruments are characterized by their temporary character and can be used to perform a number of functions.
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