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substantive law n: law that creates or defines rights, duties, obligations, and causes of action that can be enforced by law compare adjective law, procedural law NOTE: There are restrictions on applying new substantive law (as statutory or case law) retroactively.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.