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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law [MPECCoL]

Theories Concerning the Hierarchy of Norms

Cesare Pinelli

Constitutional interpretation — Form and substance of constitution — Comparative constitutional law — International law

Published under the direction of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law.
General Editors: Rainer Grote, Frauke Lachenmann, Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1. Conflicts between norms arise within a legal system, and between legal systems, when two norms addressing the same issue are held to be mutually incompatible. When a ruling needs to be made on a given issue, judges have to decide between the two conflicting norms. In legal discourse, ‘hierarchy of norms’ is one of the main criteria for managing such conflicts, or rules of collision, and consists in giving prevalence to one norm over the other due to its alleged superiority. In instances in which it can, eg, be assumed that the constitution prevails over...
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