Is there a term for the concept of homo/heterogeneity of jurisdictions when it comes to legal status of a certain action? That is being illegal in all jurisdictions [limited to context] or being legal in some an illegal in others.

For example:

  • theft is illegal everywhere
  • being naked varies

Ideally a short expression, e.g. uneven legal status or something like that.


In somewhat informal American English the term patchwork is frequently used to denote inconsistencies of law among the various states that make up the U.S.A., or among yet more local jurisdictions. Thus the Merriam-Webster entry for the word includes as examples “A patchwork of laws prevent the land from being developed,” and “a patchwork system of laws.”

In my own experience this usage is derogatory, and primarily employed by corporate interests pretending that such heterogeneity creates high logistical hurdles for business (as if, in this age of computers!)—when the real reason for their favoring uniform and supervening federal law is that the national legislature is easier to bribe into the service of the corporate interest.


I think that the term liability may convey the concept you are expressing:

A comprehensive legal term that describes the condition of being actually or potentially subject to a legal obligation.


(Law) legally obliged or responsible; answerable.

A act may be considered liable or not liable to legal punishment according to contexts.

Liability n.

one of the most significant words in the field of law, liability means responsibility for one's acts or omissions. Failure of a person or entity to meet that responsibility leaves him/her/it open to a lawsuit for any resulting damages or a court order to perform (as in a breach of contract or violation of statute). In order to win a lawsuit the suing party (plaintiff) must prove the legal liability of the defendant if the plaintiff's allegations are shown to be true. This requires evidence of the duty to act, the failure to fulfill that duty, and the connection (proximate cause) of that failure to some injury or harm to the plaintiff. Liability also applies to alleged criminal acts in which the defendant may be responsible for his/her acts which constitute a crime, thus making him/her subject to conviction and punishment.

  • But liability is about what an individual may or may not incur under different legal systems. The question is about a phrase for talking about the different systems. – Colin Fine Jul 5 '14 at 11:52
  • perhaps I was unclear in my question -- I'm looking for something to specifically denote that this liability exists across all jurisdictions or only in some. – user22210 Jul 5 '14 at 11:52

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