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Statutory Construction Latin Maxims Optima est legum interpres consuetudo. Custom is the best interpreter of a statute.

Chapter II – CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION Regula pro lege, si deficit lex. In default of the law, the maxim rules.

B. POWER TO CONSTRUE 3. Optimus interpres rerum usus. The best interpreter of the law is usage.

1. Legis interpretation legis vim obtinet. Judicial construction and interpretation of a statute Communis error facit jus. Common error sometimes passes as current law.
acquires the force of law.

Quod ab initio non valet in tractu temporis non convalescit. That which was originally void,
Chapter III – AIDS TO CONSTRUCTION does not by lapse of time become valid.

4. Ratihabitio mandato aequiparatur. Legislative ratification is equivalent to a mandate.

2. Contemporanea exposition est optima et fortissimo in lege. Contemporary construction is

strongest in law.

5. Stare decisis et non quieta movere. Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been Maledicta et exposition quae corrumpit textum. It is bad construction which corrupts the text.

Littera scripta manet. The written word endures.

Interest republicae ut sit finis litium. The interest of the state demands that there be an end to
Clausula rebus sic stantibus. Things thus standing.


7. Absoluta sentential expositore non indigent. When the language of the law is clear, no
explanation is required.

6. Index animi sermo est. Speech is the index of intention.

Dura lex sed lex. The law may be harsh but it is the law.

Animus hominis est anima scripti. The intention of the party is the soul.
Hoc quidem perquam durum est, sed ita lex scripta est. It is exceedingly hard, but so the law is
Verba legis non est recedendum. From the words of the statute there should be no departure.
B. DEPARTURE FROM LITERAL INTERPRETATION Benignus leges interpretandae sunt, quod voluntas eraum conservetur. Laws are to be
construed liberally, so that their spirit and reason be preserved.

8. Aequitas nunquam contravenit legis. Equity never acts in contravention of the law.
Qui haret in littera haret in cortice. He who considers merely the letter of an instrument goes
but skin deep into its meaning.
Aequum et bonum est lex legume. What is good and equal is the law of laws.

Quando verba statute sunt speciali, ratio autem generalia, statum generaliter est
Jus ars boni et aequi. Law is the art of equity. intelligendum. When the words used in a statute are special, but the purpose of the law is
general, it should be read as the general expression.

9. Ratio legis est anima legis. The reason of the law is the soul of the law.
10. Cessante rationi legis, cessat et ipsa lex. When the reason of the law ceases, the law itself

Littera necat spiritus vivificate. The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
11. Interpretatio talis in ambiguis simper fienda est ut evitetur inconveniens et
absurdum.Where there is ambiguity, the interpretation of such that will avoid inconveniences
Verba intentioni, non e contra, debent inservice. Words ought to be more subservient to the and absurdity is to be adopted.
intent, and not the intent to the words.

Legis construction non facit injuriam. The construction of the law will not be such as to work De similibus idem est judicium. Concerning similars, the judgment is the same.
injury or injustice.

Ubi eadem est ratio, ibi est eadem legis disposition. Where there is the same reason, there is
Argumentum ab inconvenient plurimum valet in lege. An argument drawn from the same law
inconvenience is forcible in law.

12. Ea est accipienda interpretation quae vitio caret. That interpretation is to be adopted
Verba nihil operari melius est quam absurde. It is better that words should have no operation which is free from evil or injustice.
at all than that they should operate absurdly.

Lex injusta non est lex. An unjust law is not a law.

Lex simper intendit quod convenit rationi. The law always intends that which is in accordance
with reason.
13. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum . Let right be done, though the heavens fall.

Ubi eadem ratio ibi idem jus. Like reason doth make like law.
Nemo est supra legis. Nobody is above the law.

Argumentum a simili valet in lege. An argument drawn from a similar case, or analogy,
prevails in law.
Nulla potential supra legis esse debet. No power must be above the law. Certum est quod certum reddi potest. That is sufficiently certain which can be made certain.

14. Jurae naturae aequum est neminem cum alterius detrimento et injuria fieri 17. Ibi quid generaliter conceditur, inest haec exception, si non aliquid sit contras jus
locupletiorem. It is certainly not agreeable to natural justice that a stranger should reap the basque. Where anything is granted generally, exemption from rigid application of law is implied;
pecuniary produce of another man’s work. that nothing shall be contrary to law and right.

15. Surplusagium non nocet. Surplusage does not vitiate a statute. 18. Summum jus, summa injuria. The rigor of the law would be the highest injustice.

Utile per inutile non vitiatur. The useful is not vitiated by the non-useful. Jus summum saepe, summa est militia. Extreme law is often extreme wrong.

19. Nemo tenetur ad impossibilia. The law obliges no one to perform an impossibility.
16. Falsa demostratio non nocet, cum de corpore constat.False description does not preclude
construction nor vitiate the meaning of the statute.
Impossibilum nulla obigatio est. There is no obligation to do an impossible thing.

Nil facit error nominis cum de corpora vel persona constat. Error in name does not make an
instrument inoperative when the description is sufficiently clear.

Lex non cogit ad impossibilia. The law does not require an impossibility. Ubi jus incertum, ibi jus nullum. Where the law is uncertain, there is no right.

Lex non intendit aliquid impossible. The law does not intend the impossible. 22. Ex dolo malo non oritur action. An action does not arise from fraud.

C. IMPLICATIONS Nullius commodum capere potest de injuria sua propria. No one may derive advantage from
his own unlawful act.

20. Ex necessitate legis. By the necessary implication of law.

In pari delicto potior est condition defendentis. Where the parties are equally at fault, the
position of the defending party is the better one.
In eo quod plus sit, simper inest et minus. The greater includes the lesser.

23. Quando aliquid prohibetur ex directo, prohibetur et per obliquum. What cannot, by law, be
Cui jurisdiction data est, ea quoque concessa esse videntur sine quibus jurisdiction explicari done directly cannot be done indirectly.
non potuit. When jurisdiction is given, all powers and means essential to its exercise are also

21. Ubi jus, ibi remedium.Where there is a right, there is a remedy for violation thereof.
Verba artis ex arte. Words of art should be explained from their usage in the art to which they

A. IN GENERAL Verba generalia restringuntur ad habilitatem rei vel personam. General words should be
confined according to the subject-matter or persons to which they relate.
24. Generalia verba sunt generaliter intelligenda. General words should be understood in their
general sense. 26. Ubi lex non distinguit necnon distinguere debemus. Where the law does not distinguish,
the courts should not distinguish.
Generis dictum generaliter est interpretandum. A general statement is understood in its
general sense. 27. Dissimilum dissimilis est ratio. Of things dissimilar, the rule is dissimilar.

25. Verba accipienda sunt secundum subjectam materiam. A word is to be understood in the
context in which it is used.

Verba mere aequivoca, si per communem usum loquendi in intellectu certo sumuntur, talis 28. Noscitur a sociis. A thing is known by its associates.
intellectus preferendus est. Equivocal words or those with double meaning are to be understood
according to their common and ordinary sense.

29. Ejesdem generis. Of the same kind or species. 34. Reddendo singular singulis. Referring each to each, or referring each phrase or expression
to its appropriate object, or let each be put in its proper place.

30. Expressio unius est exclusion alterius. The express mention of one person, thing or
consequence implies the exclusion of all others. C. PROVISOS, EXCEPTIONS AND SAVING CLAUSES

Expressum facit cessare tacitum. What is expressed puts an end to that which is implied. 35. Exceptio firmat regulam in casibus non exceptis. A thing not being expected must be
regarded as coming within the purview of the general rule.

31. Argumentum a contrario. Negative-Opposite Doctrine: what is expressed puts an end to that

32. Cassus omissus pro omisso habendus est. A person, object or thing omitted from an A. STATUTE CONSTRUED AS A WHOLE
enumeration must be held to have been omitted intentionally.

36. Optima statute interpretatrix est ipsum statutum. The best interpreter of the statute is the
33. Ad proximum antecedens fiat relatio nisi impediatur sentential. A qualifying word or statute itself.
phrase should be understood as referring to the nearest antecedent.
Ex tota materia emergat resolution. The exposition of a statute should be made from all its 37. Interpretatio fienda est ut res magis valeat quam pereat. A law should be interpreted with
parts put together. a view of upholding rather than destroying it.

Injustum est, nisi tota lege inspecta, de una aliqua ejus particula proposita indicare vel B. STATUTE CONSTRUED IN RELATION TO CONSTITUTION AND OTHER STATUTES
respondere. It is unjust to decide or to respond as to any particular part of a law without
examining the whole of the law.
38. Pari materia. Of the same matter.

Nemo enim aliquam partem recte intelligere possit antequam totum interum atque interim
perlegit. The sense and meaning of the law is collected by viewing all the parts together as one Interpretare et concordare leges legibus est optimus interpretandi modus. Every statute
whole and not of one part only by itself. myst be so construed and harmonized with other statutes as to form a uniform system of law.

Ex antecendentibus et consequentibus fit optima interpretation. A passage will be best 39. Distingue tempora et concordabis jura. Distinguish times and you will harmonize law.
interpreted by reference to that which precedes and follows it. Tempora mutantur et leges mutantur in illis. Times have changed and laws have changed with

Verba posterima propter certitudinem addita ad priora quae certitudine indigent sunt
referenda. Reference should be made to a subsequent section in order to explain a previous Mutatis mutandis. With the necessary changes.
clause of which the meaning is doubtful.

Chapter VII – STRICT OR LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION: A. IN GENERAL Actus me invito facturs non est meus actus.An act done by me against my will is not my act.

40. Salus populi est suprema lex. The voice of the people is the supreme law. 42. Privilegia recipiunt largam interpretationem voluntate consonem concedentis.
Privileges are to be interpreted in accordance with the will of him who grants them.

Statuta pro publico commodo late interpretantur. Statutes enacted for the publc good are to be
construed liberally. Renunciatio non praesumitur. Renunciation cannot be presumed.

Privatum incommodum publico bono pensatur. The private interests of the individual must 43. Strictissimi juris. Follow the law strictly.
give way to the accommodation of the public.

44. Nullum tempus occurit regi. There can be no legal right as against the authority that makes
B. STATUTES STRICTLY CONSTRUED the law on which the right depends.

41. Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea. The act does not make a person guilty unless the
mind is also guilty.
Chapter VIII – MANDATORY AND DIRECTIONAL STATUTES Lex de futuro, judex de praeterito. The law provides for the future, the judge for the past.

A. MANDATORY STATUTES Nova constitutio futuris formam imponere debet non praeteritis. A new statute should affect
the future, not the past.

45. Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. The law aids the vigilant, not those who
slumber on their rights. Leges quae retrospciunt, et magna cum cautione sunt adhibendae neque enim janus locatur
in legibus. Laws which are retrospective are rarely and cautiously received, for Janus has really
no place in the laws.
Potior est in tempore, potior est in jure. He who is first in time is preferred in right.

Leges et constitutiones futuris certum est dare formam negotiis, non ad facta praeterita
Chapter IX – PROSPECTIVE AND RETROACTIVE STATUTES revocari, nisi nominatim et de praeterito tempore et adhuc pendentibus negotiis cautum sit.
Laws should be construed as prospective, not retrospective, unless they are expressly made
applicable to past transactions and to such as are still pending.

46. Lex prospicit, non respicit. The law looks forward, not backward.


47. Nullum crimen sine poena, nulla poena sine lege. There is no crime without a penalty, A. Ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
there is no penalty without a law.


48. Favorabilia sunt amplianda, odiosa restringenda. Penal laws which are favorable to the
accused are given retroactive effect.
B. In obscuris inspici solere quod versimilius est, aut quod plerumque fieri solet. When
matters are obscure, it is customary to take what appears to be more likely or what usually often

49. Leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant. Later statutes repeal prior ones which are Ambiguitas verborum patens nulla verificatione excluditur. A patent ambiguity cannot be
repugnant thereto. cleared up by extrinsic evidence.

50. Generalia specialibus non derogant. A general law does not nullify a specific or special law.
jura adaptatur. Laws are understood to be adapted to those cases which most frequently occur.

Jus constitui oportet in his quae ut plurimum accidunt non quae ex inordinato. Laws ought to
be made with a view to those cases which happen most frequently, and not to those which are of
rare or accidental occurrence.

Quod semel aut bis existit praetereunt legislatores. Legislators pass over what happens only
once or twice.

De minimis non curat lex. The law does not concern itself with trifling matters.

TITLE OF THE ACT (INTRINSIC AID) D. Nigrum Nunquam Excedere Debet Rubrum. The black
(body of the act printed in black) should never go beyond the red (title or rubric of the statute
printed in red)