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  DEFINITION The process of determining what a particular statute means so that a court may apply it accurately. OVERVIEW Any question of statutory interpretation begins with looking at the plain language of the statute to discover its srcinal intent. To discover a statute's srcinal intent, courts first look to the words of the statute and apply their usual and ordinary meanings. If after looking at the language of the statute the meaning of the statute remains unclear, courts attempt to ascertain the intent of the legislature by looking at legislative history and other sources. Courts generally steer clear of any interpretation that would create an absurd result which the Legislature did not intend. Other rules of statutory interpretation include, but are not limited to:    Statutes should be internally consistent. A particular section of the statute should not be inconsistent with the rest of the statute.    When the legislature enumerates an exception to a rule, one can infer that there are no other exceptions.    When the legislature includes limiting language in an earlier version of a statute, but deletes it prior to enactment of the statute, it can be presumed that the limitation was not intended by the legislature.    The legislature is presumed to act intentionally and purposely when it includes language in one section but omits it in another.    Where legislation and case law conflict, courts generally presume that legislation takes precedence over case law.    The Rule of Lenity: in construing an ambiguous criminal statute, a court should resolve the ambiguity in favor of the defendant.    A court may also look at: the common usage of a word, case law, dictionaries, parallel reasoning, punctuation Statutes are sometimes ambiguous enough to support more than one interpretation. In these cases, courts are free to interpret statutes themselves. Once a court interprets the statute, other courts usually will not go through the exercise again, but rather will enforce the statute as interpreted by the other court. OTHER RESOURCES A statute  is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city,  or country. [1]  Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. [1]  The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies. [1]  Statutes are sometimes referred to as legislation or black letter law. As a source of law, statutes are considered primary authority (as opposed tosecondary authority).  Ideally all statutes must be in harmony with the fundamental law of the land (constitutional). This word is used in contradistinction to the common law. Statutes acquire their force from the time of their passage, however unless otherwise provided. Statutes are of several kinds; namely, Public or private. Declaratory or remedial. Temporary or perpetual. A temporary statute is one which is limited in its duration at the time of its enactment. It continues in force until the time of its limitation has expired, unless sooner repealed. A perpetual statute is one for the continuance of which there is no limited time, although it may not be expressly declared to be so. If, however, a statute which did not itself contain any limitation is to be  governed by another which is temporary only, the former will also be temporary and dependent upon the existence of the latter. [2]  Before a statute becomes law in some countries, it must be agreed upon by the highest  executive in the government , and finally published as part of a code. In many countries, statutes are organized in topical arrangements (or  codified ) within publications called codes, such as the United States Code. In many nations statutory law is distinguished from and subordinate to constitutional law.  Statutory interpretation  is the process by which courts interpret and applylegislation. Some amount of   interpretation is often necessary when a case involves a statute. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and straightforward meaning. But in many cases, there is some ambiguity orvagueness in the words of   the statute that must be resolved by the judge. To find the meanings of statutes, judges use various tools and methods of statutory interpretation, including traditional canons of statutory interpretation, legislative history, and purpose. In common law jurisdictions, the judiciary may apply rules of statutory interpretation to   legislation enacted by the legislatureor to delegated legislation such as administrative agency regulations.    The judiciary interprets how legislation should apply in a particular case as no legislation unambiguously and specifically address all matters. Legislation may contain uncertainties for a variety of reasons:    Words are imperfect symbols to communicate intent. They are ambiguous and change in meaning over time.    Unforeseen situations are inevitable, and new technologies and cultures make application of existing laws difficult.    Uncertainties may be added to the statute in the course of enactment, such as the need for compromise or catering to special interest groups.  Therefore, the court must try to determine how a statute should be enforced. This requires statutory construction . It is a tenet of statutory construction that the legislature is supreme (assuming constitutionality) when creating law and that the court is merely an interpreter of the law. Nevertheless in practice, by performing the construction the court can make sweeping changes in the operation of the law. Statutory interpretation refers to the process by which a court looks at a statute and determines what it means. A statute, which is a bill or law passed by the legislature, imposes obligations and rules on the people. Statutes, however, although they make the law, may be open to interpretation and have ambiguities. Statutory interpretation is the process of resolving those ambiguities and deciding how a particular bill or law will apply in a particular case. Assume, for example, that a statute mandates that all motor vehicles travelling on a public roadway must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If the statute does not define the compass of the term motor vehicles , then that term will have to be interpreted if questions arise in a court of law. A person driving a motorcycle might be pulled over and the police may try to fine him if his motorcycle is not  registered with the DMV. If that individual argued to the court that a motorcycle is not a motor vehicle, then the court would have to interpret the statute to determine what the legislature meant by motor vehicle and whether or not the motorcycle fell within that definition and was covered by the statute. There are numerous rules of statutory interpretation. The first rule and most important rule is the rule dealing with the statute's plain language. This rule essentially states that the statute means what it says. If, for example, the statute says motor vehicles , then the court is most likely to construe that the legislation is referring to the broad range of motorised vehicles normally required to travel along roadways and not aeroplanes or bicycles even though aeroplanes are vehicles propelled by a motor and bicycles may be used on a roadway. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION   CHAPTER IPRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS   STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION DEFINED   Statutory Construction   –  the art or process of discovering andexpounding the meaning and intention of the authors of the law withrespect to its application to a given case, where that intention is rendereddoubtful, among others, by reason of the fact that the given case is notexplicitly provided for in the law. Justice Martin defines statutory construction as the art of seeking theintention of the legislature in enacting a statute and applying it to agiven state of facts.A judicial function is required when a statute is invoked and differentinterpretations are in contention.Difference between judicial legislation and statutory construction:Where legislature attempts to do several things one which is invalid, itmay be discarded if the remainder of the act is workable and in no waydepends upon the invalid portion, but if that portion is an integral part of the act, and its excision changes the manifest intent of the act bybroadening its scope to include subject matter or territory which was notincluded therein as enacted, such excision is “judicial legislation” andnot “statutory construction”.   CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION, DISTINGUISHED   Construction  is the drawing of conclusions with respect to subjects thatare beyond the direct expression of the text, while interpretation  is theprocess of discovering the true meaning of the language used.Interpretation is limited to exploring the written text. Construction onthe other hand is the drawing of conclusions, respecting subjects that liebeyond the direct expressions of the text. SITUS OF CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION  In our system of government: ã  Legislative power is vested in the Congress of the Philippines –  theSenate and the House of the Representatives ã  Executive power is vested in the President of the Republic of thePhilippines (Art. VII, Sec.1, Phil. Const.) ã  Judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court and in such lowercourts as may be established by law. (Art VIII, Sec. 1, Phil. Const.)Legislative –  makes the lawExecutive - executes the law Judicial –  interprets the lawSimply stated, the situs of construction and interpretation of writtenlaws belong  to the judicial department.It is the duty of the Courts of Justice to settle actual controversiesinvolving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and todetermine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretionamounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch orinstrumentality of the government.Supreme Court is the one and only Constitutional Court and all otherlower courts are statutory courts and such lower courts have the powerto construe and interpret written laws. DUTY OF THE COURTS TO CONSTRUE AND INTERPRETTHE LAW; REQUISITES  1.There must be an actual case or controversy,2.There is ambiguity in the law involved in the controversy.Ambiguity exists if reasonable persons can find different meanings in astatute, document, etc.A statute is ambiguous if it is admissible of two or more possiblemeanings.If the law is clear and unequivocal, the Court has no other alternativebut to apply the law and not to interpret. Construction and interpretation of law come only after it has beendemonst rated that application is impossible or inadequate without them. DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONSTRUCTION ANDINTERPRETATION   Hermeneutics   –  the science or art of construction and interpretation. Legal hermeneutics   –  is the systematic body of rules which arerecognized as applicable to the construction and interpretation of legal writings.Dr. Lieber in his work on Hermeneutics gives the following classificationof the different kinds of interpretation  : 1. Close interpretation –  adopted if just reasons connected with thecharacter and formation of the text induce as to take the words in thenarrowest meaning. This is generally known as “   literal ”interpretation. 2.Extensive interpretation –  also called as liberal interpretation, itadopts a more comprehensive signification of the words.3.Extravagant interpretation –  substitutes a meaning evidently beyondthe true one. It is therefore not genuine interpretation.4.Free or unrestricted interpretation –  proceeds simply on he generalprinciples of interpretation in good faith, not bound by any specific orsuperior principle.5.Limited or restricted interpretation - influenced by other principlesthan the strictly hermeneutic ones.6.Predestined interpretation –  takes place when the interpreter, laboringunder a strong bias of mind, makes the text subservient to hispreconceived views and desires. SUBJECTS OF CONSTRUCTION AND INTERPRETATION  Most common subjects of construction and interpretation are theconstitution and statutes which include ordinances. But we may alsoadd resolutions, executive orders and department circulars. P. 9


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