European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 209-226

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

After the sunset: the residual effect of temporary legislation

  • Frank FaganAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of BolognaSchool of Law, Erasmus University Email author 


The difference between permanent legislation and temporary legislation is the default rule of termination: permanent legislation governs perpetually, while temporary legislation governs for a limited time. Recent literature on legislative timing rules considers the effect of temporary legislation to stop at the moment of expiration. When the law expires, so does its regulatory effect. This article extends that literature by examining the effect of temporary legislation beyond its expiration. We show that in addition to affecting compliance behavior which depends on statutory enforcement, temporary legislation also affects compliance behavior which does not depend on statutory enforcement, and more generally, organizational behavior after a sunset. When temporary legislation expires therefore, it can continue to administer regulatory and other effects. We specify the conditions for this process and give the optimal legislative response.


Timing rules Temporary legislation Sunset clauses Statutory obsolescence

JEL Classification

K23 K42