A statute is a formal, written law of a country or state, written and enacted by its legislative authority, perhaps to then be ratified by the highest executive in the government, and finally published. See SLAPP as an example of an important state enacted statute. Typically, statutes command, prohibit, or declare something. Statutes are sometimes referred to as legislation or "black letter law."

In many countries, published statutes are organized in topical arrangements called codes, such as the United States Code.

The term statute is sometimes also used to refer to an international treaty that establishes an institution, such as the Statute of the European Central Bank (a protocol to the Treaty of Maastricht). This includes international courts as well, such as the Statute of the International Court of Justice and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court .

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