Latin phrases in statutory construction

He says: “You are the one I love the most among the women in my life, and that includes my mother, my sister and my grandmother.” You ask him, “Is that ejusdem generis or expressio unius?” And he answers, “Ejusdem generis.” Should you slap him or kiss him?
Here’s a short reviewer on some Latin phrases in Legal Method. The phrases are followed by a very short description of cases that illustrate the Latin rule. The definitions are taken from Agpalo’s book on Statutory Construction.

Words must be construed in conjunction with the other words and phrases used in the text.
Legislative intent must be ascertained from a consideration of the statute as a whole. The particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole. Where a particular word or phrase in a statement is ambiguous in itself or is equally susceptible of various meanings, its true meaning may be clear and specific by considering the company in which it is found or with which it is associated.

Aisporna vs. CA: wife of insurance agent prosecuted for having sold an insurance without registering as an agent. Using this doctrine, the Court ruled that an insurance agent is one who sells insurance in return for compensation, and it was not proved that Aisporna received compensation for the insurance she was alleged to have sold. (Her defense was that as her husband’s clerk, she only renewed the insurance because her husband was out at the time).

Dai-Chi Electronics Manufacturing Corp. v. Villarama: Dai-Chi filed a complaint against Villarama for violating an agreement that he would not join the company’s competitor within two years after leaving Dai-Chi. Dai-Chi filed a complaint against Villarama at the RTC, which dismissed it on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, for it should have been filed before a labor arbiter. Using the doctrine of noscitur a sociis, the court ruled that while the Labor Code says that “all money claims of workers” were under the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiter, it did not mean to encompass the entire universe of money claims that might be asserted by workers against their employers. Paragraph 3 should not be read in isolation, but rather in conjunction with paragraphs 1 to 5, which all refer to money claims of workers arising from violations of or in connection with an employee-employer relationship. Dai-Chi’s complaint was anchored on a violation of contract, since Villarama was no longer an employee. The court ruled that the RTC was the proper venue for filing of the case.

Where a statute describes things of particular class or kind accompanied by words of a generic character, the generic words will usually be limited to things of a kindred nature with those particularly enumerated, unless there be something in the context of the statute to repel such influence. Ejusdem generis could be expansive, however, because the list is not exclusive; it may be expanded if a juridical tie could be found with another item.

Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corp: Because gambling was with the phrase ‘and other prohibited games of chance’ it was construed to refer only to illegal gambling.

PBA v CA: Where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same kind or class as those specifically mentioned.

The express mention of one person, thing, or consequence implies the exclusion of all others. Variation: Expressium facit cessare tacitum. What is expressed puts an end to what is implied. Where a statute is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or construction, be extended to other matters. Canon of restrictive interpretation.

Where a statute, by its terms, is expressly limited to certain matters, it may not, by interpretation or construction, be extended to others. The rule proceeds from the premise that the legislature would not have made specified enumerations in a statute had the intention been not to restrict its meaning and to confine its terms to those expressly mentioned.

Malinias v Comelec: An attempt to use an administrative charge for a criminal complaint against police officers accused of violating the election code. The court ruled that not all violations of the election code provided for criminal penalties and in this case, the violated provisions only warrant the imposition of administrative, not criminal, penalties.

Centeno v Villalon-Pornillos: A group of old men charged with violating the solicitation permit law was acquitted because the term religious purpose was not expressly included in the provisions of the statute, and what the law does not include, it excludes. The law referred only to charitable purposes, which phrase cannot be construed so as to include a religious purpose.

The courts may distinguish when there are facts and circumstances showing that the legislature intended a distinction or qualification.

Garvida v. Sales: Sales sought to have Garvida disqualified from the SK post because of age. The court ruled that while the Local Gov’t Code provided that SK members should be 21 years old, it added a qualification that should officials should be 21 years old on the date of election. Garvida was disqualified because she was more than 21 years old, although she was less than 22 years old.

Casus omissus pro omisso habendus est. A person, object, or thing omitted from an enumeration in a statute must be held to have been omitted intentionally.
This needs two laws. In expressio unius, it’s just the enumeration you are looking at, not another law.

COA of the Province of Cebu v Province of Cebu: This case is about the effects of a new law on an old law. The Special Education Fund (SEF) allowed the use of part of the realty and cigarette taxes for extension programs and scholarships. When the Cebu provincial office used it to pay for salaries of teachers and scholars, COA said those were not chargeable to the SEF since RA 5447, which created the SEF, was deemed repealed by the Local Govt Code. Because the two retained sections in the LGC omitted the scholarship grants, the court ruled that what was omitted must have been omitted intentionally, and so may not be included.

Where the law makes no distinctions, one does not distinguish. Where the law does not distinguish, courts should not distinguish.

Ramirez v CA: The law makes no distinction as to whether the party sought to be penalized by the statute ought to be a party other than or different from those involved in the private communication.

Cebu Institute of Medicine v Cebu Institute of Medicine Employees’ Union-National Federation of Labor: “Other benefits” may refer to SSS, Medicare, Pagibig and may be taken from the 70% tuition increase since the law only says that money from this may be given to employees in the form of salaries and other benefits. Since the law did not distinguish between “other benefits” and SSS, etc, these may be deducted from the 70% increase in tuition charged by the school.

Referring each to each; let each be put in its proper place, that is, the words should be taken distributively.

Amadora v CA: Teachers should apply to pupils and students; and heads of establishment of arts and trades to apprentices. The teacher in charge must answer for a student’s tort, but in this case none of those charged were either the teacher in charge or the dean of boys.

People vs Tamani: Promulgation should refer to judgment and notice should refer to order. The computation of the filing of the petition was wrong. (This was an obiter because the filing was late either way it is computed, and the court decided on the case anyway).


5 Responses

  1. thank you its a great help for my studies

  2. It’s a very informative reference . . . thanks so much!

  3. thank you may assignment na ako hehe

  4. the info was very helpful,thank you very much

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