Rectroactive application on law: approaches in domestic and international law

In our recently published article we examine the principle of non-retroactivity in domestic and international law.

We conclude that while in the criminal law context it has become a binding norm of international law, it has not crystalized into such norm in administrative law.

The article pays particular attention to the application of this principle in investor-state disputes and in environmental law. The application of this principle has become particularly controversial as states adopt stricter regulations to tackle climate change with retroactive effect.

This article concludes that courts and tribunals would be wrong to automatically assume that international law always forbids retroactive application of administrative regulations but need to examine closely the applicable international and domestic law.

Despite pronouncements of some international courts and tribunals to the contrary, states can conclude treaties and adopt administrative regulations with retroactive effect to pursue legitimate public policy objectives.

Kryvoi, Yarik and Matos, Shaun, 2021. Non-Retroactivity as a General Principle of Law. Utrecht Law Review, 17(1), pp.46–58. DOI: