ETHICS WEEK 10, INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE
(I) RULES OF INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES (II) ADVOCACY PRACTICE 1
:: INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES: is an attempt to decipher the intention of the legislature. This may be done by resorting to any one or more rule(s) of interpretation, intrinsic and extrinsic aids too.
:: GENERAL PRINCIPLES, MAXIMS AND SCOPE.
– LITERAL RULE: Connotes that the ordinary and natural meaning of words/provisions should be applied except it would work injustice-Abioye v Yakubu, R v Commissioner of Income Tax. For example Awolowo v Shagari, where 2/3rd was interpreted to mean the nearest mathematical value.
– GOLDEN RULE: Where there would be injustice or absurdity resulting from the literal rule, the court would look at the secondary meaning of the words-Ayoade v Military Governor of Ogun.
– MISCHIEF RULE: give an interpretation that seeks to cure/suppress the evil for which the law was enacted. National Assembly v The President (2003). Heydon’s Case
– EJUSDEM GENERIS RULE: “of the same kind” restricts general words to the context of specific words following. Buhari v Yusuf, Jammal Steel Structures Ltd v ACB.
– BENEFICIAL CONSTRUCTION: adopt wider approach in interpreting constitution, FHR, etc. Savannah Bank v Ajilo. Constitutional provisions are interpreted broadly and liberally-Nafiu Rabiu v The State. Kalu v Odili.
– PURPOSIVE RULE: PDP v INEC.
– PRESERVATIVE RULE: interpretation should advance the object of the statute and development of the legal system.
– BLUE PENCIL RULE: A.G. Ondo State v A.G. Federation.
– SPECIFIC OVERRIDE GENERAL: generalia specialibus non derogant; a general provision does not derogate from a specific provision.
– PROVISIONS OUSTING JURISDICTION OF COURT ARE INTERPRETED RESTRICTIVELY-Fawehinmi v Abacha.
– Expressio Uniusestexclusioalterius; the express mention of one thing is the implied exclusion of that not mentioned. PDP v INEC.
– Lex Non-Cogit Impossibilia: the law cannot demand the doing of the impossible. Therefore more workable interpretation be adopted.
– One should not benefit from his wrong-Amadi v Nsirim.
– Contra Profentes Rule: Statutes seeking to curtail a person’s right should be interpreted strictly. E.g. Taxation Statutes.
– Exclusio Ulnarius Presumption: things not mentioned in the statute are not within its ambit.
:: INTRODUCTION TO TRIAL ADVOCACY: advocacy refers to pleading a case in court or tribunal. It refers to skills employed by a lawyer in the course of court proceedings to persuade the (unbiased) judge to rule in his favour.
:: CASE THEORY AND TRIAL PLAN: After ascertaining the facts of the case (from interviewing, studying pleadings and other court processes), he then makes a logical adaptation of facts to the law (case theory) and decides on the strategy to adopt (trial plan).
He begins with a brief statement of facts to familiarise the court (from his point of view) of the case at hand (opening speech). Then puts questions to witnesses to elicit important information (examination) and concludes his case with a brief but detailed presentation of the facts and argument in favour of his case (closing speech/Final Address). These encompass trial advocacy. A lawyer needs to skilfully do the above.
:: GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF ADVOCACY: -LP is to be guided by rules, conventions and regulations. He is to prepare for the case and put in his best–Rule 14 and 16 RPC