Chapter v Summary - Subtopics 1-20

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  CHAPTER V- INTERPRETATION OF WORDS AND PHRASES 5.01. Generally A word or phrase used in a statute may have an ordinary, generic, restricted, technical, legal, commercial, or trade meaning. Which meaning should be given to a word or phrase in statute depends upon what the legislature intended. As a general rule, in interpreting the meaning and scope of a term used in the law, a careful review of the whole law involved, as well as the intendment of law, ascertained from a consideration of the statue as a whole, and not of an isolated part or a particular provision alone, must be made to determine the real intent of the law. Term used: “Void for vagueness” is a declaration that a law is invalid because it is not sufficiently clear, or that in terms of legislative delegation the authority is so extensive so as to lead to arbitrary  prosecutions. 5.02. Statutory definition. The legislative definition controls the meaning of the statutory word, irrespective of any other meaning the word or phrase may have in its ordinary or usual sense. Where a statute defines a word or phrase employed therein, the word or phrase should not, by construction, be given a different meaning. When the legislature gives a definition to a word, the meaning is restricted within the terms of definitions. When the legislature gives meaning to a word as used in the statute, it doesn’t usurp the courts power to interpret the laws but merely legislates what should form part of the law. While definition of terms in a statute must be given all the weight due them in the construction of the provision in which they are used, the terms or phrase being part and parcel of the whole statue must be given effect in their entirety as a harmonious, coordinate, and integrated unit. 5.03 Qualification of rule.    The statutory definition of a word or term “as used in this Act” is controlling only insofar as the act is concerned. The definition cannot be applied for when the same statue is used in other statutes. The general rule that the statutory definition control the meaning of statutory words does not apply when its application creates obvious incongruities, destroys one of the major purposes of the act/statute, or becomes illogical as a result of a change in its factual basis. In such case, the statutory definition will be regarded with the word given a different meaning so as to avoid consequence. 5.04 Words construed in their ordinary sense. The general rule in construing words and phrases is that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases should be given their plain, ordinary ,and common usage meaning. The courts therefore assume that the lawmakers know the meaning of words and the rules of grammar so as to yield its correct sense. Words in statute should generally be given their ordinary or usual meaning. They should not be given a strict or limited signification in the absence of a legislative intent to that effect. 5.05. General words construed generally Maxims:    Generaliaverbasuntgeneraliterintelligenda means what is generally spoke shall be generally understood.    Generale dictum generaliterestinterpretandum means a general statement is understood in a general sense. A word of general significance in a statute is to be taken in its ordinary and comprehensive sense, unless it is shown that the word is intended to be given a different or restricted meaning. The rule is expressed in the maxim  generaliaverbasuntgeneraliterintelligenda and  generale dictum generaliterestinterpretandum.  Where a word used in a statue has both a restricted and general meaning, the general must  prevail over the restricted unless the nature of the subject matter or the context in which it is employed clearly indicates that the limited is intended.  5.07 General term includes things that arise thereafter. A word of general signification employed in a statute should be construed, In the absence of the legislative intent to the contrary, to comprehend not only peculiar conditions at the time of its enactment but those that may normally arise after its approval. Such rule of construction is known as progressive interpretation, which extends the application of a statue to all subjects and conditions within its general purpose or scope that come into existence following its passage, thus keeping the legislative short-term and transitory. Hence, statutes framed in general terms apply to new cases that arise, and to new subjects that are created, and which come within their general scope and policy. It is a rule of statutory construction that legislative enactments in general and comprehensive terms, prospective in operation, apply alike to all persons, subjects and businesses within their general purview and scope. 5.08 Words with commercial trade or meaning. When words used in business is applied in a statute, it should not be given a new interpretation, but should be given such trade or commercial meaning as has been general understood among merchants. In the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, trade or commercial terms are presumed to have been used in their trade or commercial sense. This is applicable to tariff laws and laws of commerce. These laws should be construed as universally understood by the importer or trade. 5.09 Words with technical or legal meaning Words that have technical sense or those judicially construed to have a certain meaning should be interpreted according to the sense in which they have been previously used although the sense may vary from the strict or literal meaning of the words. 5.10. How identical terms in same statue are construed. The general rule is that a word or phrase repeatedly used in a statue will bear the same meaning throughout the statue. The same word or substantially the same phrase appearing in different parts of the statue will be accorded a generally accepted and consistent meaning, unless a different intention appears or is clearly expressed.   The reason for this is that a word used in a statute in a given sense is presumed to be used in the same sense throughout the law. 5.11 Meaning of word qualified by purposes of statue. The meaning of a word or phrase may be qualified by the purpose which induced the legislature to enact the statue. In construing a word or phrase, the court should adopt that interpretation that accords best with the manifest purpose of the statue. If the language of the statue is susceptible of two or more construction, that which gives effect to the manifest intent of the lawmaker and promote the object for which the statute was enacted should be adopted, and the construction that destroys other provisions of the statute or defeats the object the legislator sought to attain should be rejected The literal meaning of the word or phrase may be rejected if the result of adopting such meaning will be to defeat the purpose which the legislature had in mind. 5.12 Word or phrase construed in relation to other provisions. The general rule is at a word, phrase or provision should not be construed in isolation but must be interpreted in relation to other provisions of the law. 5.13 Meaning of term dictated by context. Maxim:    Verbaaccipiendasuntsecundummateriam means words are to be accepted or understood according to the subject matter to which they deal with. While ordinarily a word or term used in statute may be given the ordinary meaning, the context in which a term or phrase is used may dictate a different sense. The context in which the word is used oftentimes determines its meaning. The maxim applied here is verbaaccipiendasuntsecundummateriam. The context may also limit the meaning of what otherwise is a word of broad signification. Finally, the context in which the same word is used in different parts of the statute may give it a generic sense in one part and a limited meaning in another part. 5.14 Where the law does not distinguish.
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