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desuetude


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[Latin: disuse]

n. The condition of a legal term or measure that has fallen into disuse over time. For example, the Treason Act of 1351 is still in force today. Under this Act, the crime of high treason is made out if anyone “violate” the King's companion, the King's eldest daughter if she was unmarried (even presumably if she were to give her consent), or the wife of the King's eldest son and heir. It is arguable that these offences, though still within an enforceable statute, have fallen into desuetude and in consequence would not be enforced by a court of law today. Until the entry into force of section 36 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the death penalty could be enforced for acts of treason by English courts.

Subjects: Law.


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