See also the discussion of legal effect in our Research Study on Text-driven Law.
The consequence of a legally relevant fact, which consequence is attributed by positive law, and consists of a change in the legal status of a legal subject, including a change in their legal powers, their rights or obligations:
- this can entail e.g. the attribution of a right, the voiding of an obligation, or the qualification of some state or behaviour as either lawful or unlawful;
- the attribution of legal effect is brought about by a legal norm that consists of a set of legal conditions (Tatbestand) that attribute the legal effect if the conditions are fulfilled;
- the attribution is neither caused nor logically inferred; it is performative in the sense of speech act theory;
- for instance, fulfilling the conditions that constitute a criminaloffence have the legal effect of being punishable, not of being punished (which is another matter);
- The set of legal conditions (Tatbestand) that result in a legal effect are specified in positive law, more precisely in a source of law: legislation, case law, customary law, or fundamental principles
- As positive law depends on the relevant jurisdiction, legal effect in turn differs per jurisdiction, even if some legal effects may apply in many jurisdictions