It is for this reason that most countries try to avoid passing laws

It is for this reason that most countries try to

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with all other areas of the law. It is for this reason that most countries try to avoid passing laws retrospectively. If a law can be passed that applies not only in the future but also in the past, many people (those who had arranged their affairs on the basis of the law as it applied before the change) could be unfairly disadvantaged, because the change might result in behaviour that was lawful when it occurred becoming unlawful. Business could not operate with that level of uncertainty. There is however a problem with certainty. Taken to its extreme, the requirement for certainly could result in the law never changing. Business could not operate against the background either. As society, technology and the means of doing business change so too must the law so that it reflects the needs of the community. (So, for example, the law has had to evolve to develop new rules for the proper regulation of dealings over the internet.) Therefore, there will always be some conflict between the requirement for certainty and the competing requirement of flexibility. Flexibility. Because modern society changes, so too must the laws that regulate behaviour in it. It must be possible to put new laws in place to govern the operations of new commercial entities and ventures. As defects in existing laws are identified it must be possible to change them rapidly so unacceptable behaviour cannot continue (as was the case, for example, in the United States where the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed quickly in 2002 to better regulate audit procedures following the high profile collapses of a number of companies, including Enron and Worldcom). In most countries rapid changes to the law are possible because the sovereign body can amend existing laws and implement new laws very quickly by passing them through the parliament or the congress. In common law countries, where the courts have to follow existing rules, rapid change through the courts is not as possible—but those countries all have parliaments or similar bodies that can remedy this deficiency and make the required changes through legislation. Fairness. Laws must normally operate fairly (and must be seen to operate fairly) if they are to be acceptable to the majority of the people they are intended to affect. This does not mean that the majority of people must like them but they must at least see them as necessary and reasonable. For example, taxation laws are not liked but most people accept that taxation is necessary to pay for community assets, services and benefits and they merely demand that the laws apply equitably across society—so everyone pays his or her fair share. Laws will be fair when people in like situations were treated alike and, as noted above, an appellate system with appeals courts able to reconsider decisions of lower courts is an important way of ensuring fairness and of showing people that the law operates fairly.
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