What does legal power mean and what is it for?

The concept of “legal power” is far from serving only lawyers. Knowing what it entails and being able to calculate when legal power comes into play is useful for everyone. If you’ve ever applied for planning permission, had a dispute with your mobile phone provider or been through a divorce, I’m sure the force of law has affected you too.

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What does legal power mean?

The legal force is essentially the property of a judicial or administrative decision that makes it final, binding and unalterable(by ordinary remedies). Even a final decision can be changed in certain circumstances, but these are exceptional circumstances, i.e. with the use of exceptional remedies.

Practical impact of legal force

In practice, legal force is important for you, for example, if a court decision says that you have to pay a debt or fulfil another obligation imposed on you within three days of the judgment becoming final.

If you are going to build, then you must obtain a building permit within the period of validity of the planning decision, usually within two years of the date of the legal force. You will find this out on the document itself, on which the building authority will mark the legal force for you on request.

Not satisfied with the decision of the court or administrative authority and would like to appeal? Do you need to write your appeal so that it is bulletproof and has a chance of success? We will assess your chances of success and suggest a legal solution.

When does the legal force come into effect?

The basic prerequisite for a decision or judgment to become final is:

The judgment then becomes final:

  • the date of service where an appeal is not admissible (e.g. in the case of so-called ‘small claims’),
  • on the day following the expiry of the time-limit for appeal, if no appeal has been lodged or has not been lodged properly or in time (as a general rule, on the expiry of fifteen days from the date of service of the written copy of the decision on the party),
  • the date of service of the judgment of the Court of Appeal if the appeal has been lodged.

The further aspect of finality means that the case cannot be heard and decided again. If you are represented by a lawyer in the court proceedings, he or she will look after the legal force and any time limits for the appeal for you.

Tip: Read about the legal force and other requirements and the criminal procedure itself .

How is the legal force calculated?

The calculation of the entry into force is quite simple at first glance – we know that it will occur, for example, 15 days after the delivery of the decision, if neither party appeals. However – two factors can complicate the situation:

  • We do not need to know exactly when the other party was served with the decision and therefore from when the time limit is calculated.
  • If the last day of the appeal period falls on a weekend or a public holiday, then you can still appeal on the first working day after that. This postpones the entry into force of the decision.

Example:

Imagine that you are served with a judgment on Friday, February 18, 2022. Adding fifteen days for filing an appeal brings us to March 5, which is, of course, a Saturday. Therefore, it would still be possible to appeal on Monday, March 7, and if that did not occur, the judgment would become final on Tuesday, March 8. The enforceability of the judgment would then also be postponed.

If you want to make sure you don’t make a mistake in calculating the legal force, you can use one of the free calculators available on the internet.

If you get the legal force wrong

The legal force clause is (usually) stamped in the left-hand corner on the front of the judgment.
Sometimes, however, a decision may be stamped with a legal force clause even though it is not yet final.

This is the case, for example, where one of the addressees has been served by the court or administrative authority at an address where he or she does not live and this fact has not been indicated by the post office on the envelope. The court or administrative authority then relies on the so-called fiction of service and marks the legal force incorrectly.

Such a situation may affect you personally and practically as a party to the proceedings: for example, you were not and could not be served with the decision and now it “appears” to be final and you cannot appeal against it.

If the legal force has been wrongly indicated, you can either ask for it to be annulled or challenge the decision directly by means of an ordinary appeal, stating this fact in your appeal. The Court of Appeal (or administrative authority) will then first consider whether your objection is justified and, if it finds that it is, it will annul the legal force and hear the case.

Tip: Are you facing administrative proceedings or are you already involved in any? Read on to find out what is involved so that nothing surprises you.

Do some private legal acts also have legal force?

We always talk about legal force in the context of judicial or administrative decisions. In the case of private legal acts, for example, contracts, we also set a certain date on which certain effects are attached, but in this case we are talking about effectiveness, not legal force. In the case of contracts, as a general rule, the date on which the last party signs the contract takes effect. However, if the law stipulates that a decision of the competent authority is required for a contract, the contract is only effective upon that decision.

Legal force does not mean enforceability

As already mentioned above, legal force means that the effects of the decision can take place. For example, an obligation to perform a certain performance. This is to be distinguished from the so-called enforceability of a decision, where performance can be enforced even against the will of the person on whom it was imposed. This means that if the debtor has to pay the debt and is given 3 days from the legal force of the decision to pay it, then after the expiration of these days in vain the enforceability occurs and it is possible to enforce compliance by legal means.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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