It seems normative that a law cannot enumerate any specific persons or companies to be included or excluded from its provisions. Imagine: "Violation of this section is punishable by a $100 fine; Joel S. to pay triple."

Such rules could surely cause conflicts of interest, and I know from programming that very specific heuristics tend to be brittle in practice. Are there specific legal principles which put this practice off limits?

  • Person-specific laws are passed, though they generally benefit the person rather than restricting what they may do. Do you mean prohibitive laws? And there have been many laws that target specific companies, beneficially of punitively (not by name, but by description, e.g. describing Walmart in terms of number of employees). – user6726 Sep 19 '16 at 4:57
  • @user6726 OK -- and whether laws are inclusive or exclusive, what stops them from naming Wal-Mart directly? – Aaron Brick Sep 19 '16 at 15:22
  • Mostly politics. Entities are directly named when the act is considered beneficial. Your local congressman will often sponsor a bill to relieve Sally Smith or Jack Coffee Shop of some tragic problem. When a town wants to penalize a company, they somewhat avoid an outcry by describing the company, rather than naming it. – user6726 Sep 19 '16 at 15:28
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    @AaronBrick Are you just asking about civil law legal systems (like those in continental Europe), or about common law ones as well (like the UK, US, Canada, Australia, etc.)? – cpast Sep 19 '16 at 17:08
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    One particular kind of "targeted" law is a bill of attainder, which in its original form is a law declaring that a certain person is guilty of a crime and is to be punished. The US Constitution specifically prohibits them. – Nate Eldredge Sep 19 '16 at 23:51

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