If there are multiple laws:

a) in a country (all the laws in one country)

b) in multilple different countries and / or multinational unions (all laws in different entities, e.g. all in a different country)

that contradict each other, what is a person supposed to do to follow the law? Those are two separate questions: a), b).

I prefer to discuss these questions in general.

example of b) Mr. Peter is a cook. He intends to become a solo entrepreneuer, have employees, in two different European Union countries and sell e.g. pizzas on a busy place. According to the both countries' law, he has to pay a health insurance in each country, where he is a solo entrepreneur. But according to the European Union law, the maximum number of countries to pay health insurance is at most one.

Thank you.

  • 1
    Those laws are not contradictory ar all - you have to read the law's text.
    – Trish
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 10:06
  • Maybe the provided example is not suitable here, could we please discuss the question in general, as mentioned before?
    – Jane B.
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 10:20
  • 1
    Laws apply in their own jurisdiction (so for health insurance, the employer pays it for their employees in the employees' respective countries). Perhaps a different example might be a product like a car which is sold in two places, say where one country needs white headlights and another needs yellow headlights? Is that the sort of thing you mean? Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 10:33
  • 2
    Please provide specific, actual examples of laws you think are contradictory. The matter of health insurance might or might not be accurate, which is why directing us to the specific statutes is crucial for identifying whether you are misreading them. A generic discussion of contradictory laws is pointless, in part because it requires us to guess the type of scenarios you have in mind. Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 11:09
  • 1
    It may help if the OP could cite the laws they think are contradictory, along with quotes of the relevant sections - especially the "European Union law" mentioned in the question. –
    – user35069
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


Those are two separate questions: a), b).

Please don't ask two questions at once. I'll cover your 1st question.

If there are multiple laws in a country [...] that contradict each other, what is a person supposed to do to follow the law?

As a very rough outline of how contradictory laws are treated:

  • Federal law trumps state law (the supremacy clause of the constitution).

  • Specific laws trump general laws. This apply both between contradictory laws and also to internal contradictions within laws.

  • New laws trump old laws. If a new law contradicts an old law, then the new law has implicitly repealed the old law (i.e., repealed the parts that were contradicted).

Note that in general, courts try not to disregard laws. E.g., if federal law says, "do X", state law say "do Y", and the only way to do both is some weird, perhaps-not-intended Z, then the court will typically respond to a violation by saying, "you should have done Z," rather than saying, "the state law was preempted."

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