National law refers to legal rules that pertain to a particular nation. These laws typically cover a range of topics including rights, contracts, property and criminal justice. These laws are created by legislative, judiciary and executive entities within a nation.
National laws may also be set by international treaties. These treaties will typically stipulate that the laws are to be implemented into domestic law, if they don’t already have this effect. This process is often called “transformation.” Usually, an incorporated treaty is given special status in a country’s law, but it doesn’t always have priority over other legislation.
For example, the Education and Care Services National Regulations are a nationally applied legal framework. This means that they apply in every jurisdiction across Australia, but that some of the specifics are adjusted for local needs. The Australian National Quality Framework operates in a similar way to provide a consistent standard for children’s education and care.
A key issue with a nationally applied law is that it can be difficult to discern which laws are the most important, and where national and international law differs. For example, Article VI of the Constitution establishes that federal law takes precedence over state laws and even state constitutions. This is referred to as the Supremacy Clause, and it prohibits states from interfering with the federal government’s exercise of its constitutional powers or assuming any functions that are exclusively entrusted to the federal government. Some critics argue that the Supremacy Clause creates a space for an autonomous, a-national legal system that emerges spontaneously from trade usages and is called the new lex mercatoria.