Lex Specialis Law and Legal Definition

Lex specialis is a Latin phrase which means “law governing a specific subject matter”. It comes from the legal maxim “lex specialis derogat legi generali”. This doctrine relates to the interpretation of laws. It can apply in both domestic and international law contexts.

The doctrine states that a law governing a specific subject matter overrides a law that only governs general matters .Generally, this situation arises with regard to the construction of earlier enacted specific legislation when more general legislation is passed after such enactment.

This principle also applies to the construction of a body of law or single piece of legislation that contains both specific and general provisions.