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Staututory Construction Ruben Agpalo Summary

Staututory Construction Ruben Agpalo Summary

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Legal Method Reviewer 
Textbook 
: Statutory Construction by AgpaloPage
1
of 
9
 
C
onstruction
The art or process of discovering andexpounding the meaning and intention of theauthors of law, where that intention is rendereddoubtful by reason of the ambiguity in itslanguage or the fact that the given case is notexplicitly provided for in the law.
 
Purp
ose
: to ascertain and give effect to theintent of the law, to determine legislative intent.
Rules of Statutory
C
onstruction
These are tools used to ascertain legislativeintent. They are not rules but mere axioms of experience.
Legislative Intent
The essence of the law. The intent of thelegislature is the law, and the key to, and thecontrolling factor in, its construction andinterpretation.
The primary source of legislative intent is thestatute itself.
Where the words or phrases of a statute are notobscure or ambiguous, its meaning and theintention of the legislature must be determined fromthe language employed.Legislative Purpose
The reason why a particular statute wasenacted by the legislature.
Legislative Meaning
What the law, by its language, means: what itcomprehends, what it covers or embraces,what it limits or confines.
In construing a statute, it is not enough to ascertainthe intention or meaning of the statute; it is alsonecessary to see whether the intention or meaninghas been expressed in such a way as to give it legaleffect and validity.
y
The duty and power to interpret or construe astatute or the Constitution belongs to the judiciary.
y
The SC construes the applicable law incontroversies which are ripe for judicialresolution.
y
The court does not interpret law in a vacuum.
y
The legislature has no power to overrule theinterpretation or construction of a statute or theConstitution by the Supreme Court, for interpretation is a judicial function assigned tothe latter by the fundamental law.
y
The SC may, in an appropriate case, change or overrule its previous construction.
A condition
sine qua non
before the court mayconstrue or interpret a statute, is that there be doubtor ambiguity in its language. The province of construction lies wholly within the domain of ambiguity. Where there is no ambiguity in the wordsof a statute, there is no room for construction.
y
A statute is ambiguous when it is capable of being understood by reasonably well-informedpersons in either of two senses.
y
Where the law is free from ambiguity, the courtmay not introduce exceptions or conditionswhere none is provided.
y
A meaning that does not appear nor is intendedor reflected in the very language of the statutecannot be placed therein be construction.
y
Where the two statutes that apply to a particular case, that which was specifically designed for the said case must prevail over the other.
y
When the SC has laid down a principle of lawas applicable to a certain state of facts, it willadhere to that principle and apply it to all futurecases where the facts are substantially thesame.
y
Judicial rulings have no retroactive effect.
y
The court may issue guidelines in applying thestatute, not to enlarge or restrict it but to clearlydelineate what the law requires. This is not judicial legislation but an act to define what thelaw is.
Limitations on power to construe
Courts may not enlarge nor restrict statutes.
Courts may not be influenced by questions of wisdom.
AIDS TO
C
ONSTRU
C
TION
To ascertain the true intent of the statute, the court mayavail of 
in
in
s
ic aid 
s
, or those found in the printed pageof the statute, and
ext 
in
s
ic aid 
s
, those extraneous factsand circumstances outside the printed page.1. Title 
The title may indicate the legislative extentor restrict the scope of the law, and astatute couched in a language of doubtfulimport will be construed to conform to thelegislative intent as disclosed in its title.
When the text of the statute is clear andfree form doubt, it is improper to resort toits title to make it obscure.2. Preamble
That part of the statute written immediatelyafter its title, which states the purpose,reason or justification for the enactment of a law. It is usually expressed in the form of ³whereas´ clauses.
It is not an essential part of the statute. Butit may, when the statute is ambiguous, beresorted to clarify the ambiguity, as a key toopen the minds of the lawmakers as to thepurpose of the statute.3. Context of the whole text
 
Legal Method Reviewer 
Textbook 
: Statutory Construction by AgpaloPage
2
of 
9
 
The best source from which to ascertainthe legislative intent is the statute itself ±the words, the phrases, the sentences,sections, clauses, provisions ± taken as awhole and in relation to one another.4. Punctuation marks
Punctuation marks are aids of low degree;they are not parts of the statute nor theEnglish language.
Where there is, however, an ambiguity in astatute which may be partially or whollysolved by a punctuation mark, it may beconsidered in the construction of a statute.5. Capitalization of letters
An aid of low degree in the construction of statutes.6. Headnotes or epigraphs
These are convenient index to the contentsof the provisions of a statute; they may beconsulted in case of doubt in interpretation.
They are not entitled to much weight.7. Lingual text
Unless otherwise provided, where a statuteis officially promulgated in English andSpanish, the English text shall govern, butin case of ambiguity, omission or mistake,the Spanish may be consulted to explainthe English text.
The language in which a statute is writtenprevails over its translation.8. Intent or spirit of law
Legislative intent or spirit is the controllingfactor, the influence most dominant if astatute needs construction.
The intent of the law is that which isexpressed in the words thereof, discoveredin the four corners of the law and aided if necessary by its legislative history.9. Policy of law
A statute of doubtful meaning must begiven a construction that will promotepublic policy.10. Purpose of law or mischief to be suppressed
The purpose or object of the law or themischief intended to be suppressed areimportant factors to be considered in itsconstruction.11. Dictionaries
While definitions given by lexicographersare not binding, courts have adopted, inproper cases, such definitions to supporttheir conclusion as to the meaning of theparticular words used in a statute.12. Consequences of various constructions
Construction of a statute should be rejectedif it will cause injustice, result in absurdityor defeat the legislative intent.13. Presumptions
Based on logic, common sense; eg.Presumption of constitutionality,completeness, prospective application,right and justice, etc.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
Where a statute is susceptible of several interpretations,there is no better means of ascertaining the will andintention of the legislature than that which is afforded bythe history of the statute. The history of a statute refersto all its antecedents from its inception until itsenactment into law.1. President¶s message to the legislature
This usually contains proposed legislativemeasures and indicates the President¶sthinking on the proposed legislation which,when enacted into law, follows his line of thinking into the matter.2. Explanatory note
A short exposition of explanationaccompanying a proposed legislation by itsauthor or proponent. It contains statementsof the reason or purpose of the bill, as wellas arguments advanced by its author inurging its passage.3. Legislative debates, views and deliberations
Where there is doubt as to what a provisionof a statute means, that meaning whichwas put to the provision during thelegislative deliberation or discussion on thebill may be adopted.4. Reports of commissions
In construing the provisions of the code asthus enacted, courts may properly refer tothe reports of the commission that draftedthe code in aid of clarifying ambiguitiestherein.5. Prior laws from which the statute is based
Legislative history will clarify the intent of the law or shed light on the meaning andscope of the codified or revised statute.6. Change in phraseology by amendments
Courts may investigate the history of theprovisions to ascertain legislative intent asto the meaning and scope of the amendedlaw.7. Amendment by deletion
 
Legal Method Reviewer 
Textbook 
: Statutory Construction by AgpaloPage
3
of 
9
 
The amendment statute should be given aconstruction different from that previous toits amendment.8. Adopted statutes
Where local statutes are patterned after or copied from those of another country, thedecisions of courts in such countryconstruing those laws are entitled to greatweight in the interpretation of such localstatutes.9. Principles of common law
Courts may properly resort to common lawprinciples in construing doubtful provisionsof a statute, particularly where such astatute is modeled upon Anglo-Americanprecedents.10. Conditions at the time of the enactment
It is proper, in the interpretation of astatute, to consider the physical conditionsof the country and the circumstances thenobtaining which must of necessity affect itsoperation in order to understand the intentof the statute.11. History of the times
The history of the times out of which thelaw grew and to which it may be rationallysupposed to bear some direct relationship.
C
ONTEMPORARY
C
ONSTRU
C
TION
The constructions placed upon statutes at thetime of, or after, their enactment by theexecutive, legislature or judicial authorities, aswell as those who, because of their involvementin the process of legislation, are knowledgeableof the intent and purpose of the law, such asdraftsmen and bill sponsors.
The contemporary construction is the strongestin law.1. Construction by an executive or administrativeofficer directly called to implement the law
y
May be express ± interpretation embodiedin a circular, directive or regulation.
y
May be implied ± a practice or mode of enforcement of not applying the statute tocertain situations or of applying it in aparticular manner; interpretation by usageor practice.2. Construction by the Sec. of Justice as hiscapacity as the chief legal adviser of thegovernment
y
In the form of opinions issued upon requestof administrative or executive officials whoenforce the law.
y
President or Executive Secretary has thepower to modify or alter or reverse theconstruction given by a departmentsecretary.3. Interpretation handed down in an adversaryproceeding in the form of a ruling by anexecutive officer exercising quasi-judicial power 
y
Such rulings need not have the detachmentof a judicial, or semi-judicial decision, andmay properly carry basis.
The contemporaneous construction is very probablythe true expression of the legislative purpose,especially if the construction is followed for aconsiderable period of time. It is thus entitled togreat weight and respect by the courts in theinterpretation of the ambiguous provisions of law,and unless it is shown to be clearly erroneous, it willcontrol the interpretation of statutes by the courts.
The best interpreter of law is usage.
Interpretation by those charged with their enforcement is entitled to great weight by thecourts.
Contemporaneous construction is entitled togreat weight because it comes from a particular branch of government called upon to implementthe laws thus construed.
Respect is due the government agency or officials charged with the implementation of thelaw for their competence, expertness,experience and informed judgment, and the factthat they are frequently the drafters of the lawthey interpret.
The court may disregard contemporaneousconstruction when there is no ambiguity in the law,where the construction is clearly erroneous, wherestrong reason to the contrary exists, and where thecourt has previously given the statute a differentinterpretation.
If through the misapprehension of the law anexecutive or administrative officer called uponto implement it has erroneously applied andexecuted it, the error may be corrected whenthe true construction is ascertained.
Erroneous contemporaneous constructioncreates no vested right on the part of those whorelied upon, and followed such construction.The rule is not absolute and admits exceptionsin the interest of justice and fair play.
Legislative interpretation
Legislative interpretation of a statute is notcontrolling, but the courts may resort to it toclarify ambiguity in the language thereof.
Legislative approval
The legislature is presumed to have fullknowledge of a contemporaneous or practicalconstruction of a statute. Legislative ratificationis equivalent to a mandate.
Reenactment

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