Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Leges Posteriores Priores Contrarias Abrogant Definition:

Latin: Later laws abrogate prior contrary laws.

Herbert Broom translated the maxim as:

"Where the provisions of a later document are contrary to those of an earlier, the earliest must be considered as repealed."

Sedgwick described leges posteriores, priores contrarias abrogant as follows:

"If two inconsistent acts be passed at different times, the last is to be obeyed; and if obedience cannot be observed without derogating from the first, it is the first which must give way."

In volume 86 (2000) of the Virginia Law Review, University of Virginia School of Law professor Caleb Nelson wrote:

"... leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant - later laws abrogate contrary prior ones.

"As William Blackstone1 summarized the principle, 'Where words are clearly repugnant in two laws, the later law takes place of the elder: leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant is a maxim of universal law, as well as of our own constitutions."


  • Broom, Herbert, A Selection of Legal Maxims Classified and Illustrated, (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1845)
  • Caleb. Nelson, Preemption, 86 Va. L. Rev. 236 (2000)
  • NOTE 1: 1 Bl. Comm. 59
  • Sedgwick, T., The Interpretation and Construction of Statutory and Constitutional Law, (1874)

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