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Filamie Lourly F.

Cacdac LLB- 1 Legal Writing

Dura Lex Sed Lex: Concept and Application
The law may be harsh, but it is still the law. The law may be difficult to obey but it must
be therefore complied with because gnorance of the law e!cuses no one,
Ignorantia legis non
excusat. t is presumed that e"ery indi"idual or e"ery inhabitants of such nation #nows the law.
The phrase Dura Lex Sed Lex originated in the 11th century as a principle of cannon law $church
law% by Bishop Buchard of Worms. t stands for the &'ule of Law&, that is the letter of the law
must be followed by e"eryone and no one is abo"e the law. ( society who strongly belie"es in
the rule of law is said to be more free from tyranny. f a ruler is abo"e the law, then he can rule
The Latin phrase uses the term Le! as opposed to )us. This is important. Le! is a law
created by men, which can often be arbitrary li#e the speed limit along a certain street. )us is a
law which e!ists in the natural order of things and which cannot be modified by the act of a
legislature. For instance, murder of innocents and sla"ery are always wrong regardless of the
local law. Buchard*s principle does not say that the natural law is harsh, but that the law created
by man is harsh. +"en though it may be arbitrary and ha"e no foundation in traditional concepts
of ,ustice, good and e"il, for society to function efficiently, each person must obey it. -ou might
recall that this is the principle reason why .ocrates committed suicide after being imprisoned/ he
could not turn his bac# on his country but had to face his punishment.
The Latin principle is
ob,ecti"ely right and the legal e!perts are professionally right as well when in"o#ing the Latin
truism 1 but only by "irtue of the following three fundamental premises/
Firstly,that the law is ,ust in its ob,ecti"e content, ,ust for the sub,ect party concerned, and
,ust to the society as a whole it is mandated for obser"ance. n other words e"en but there is an
iota of in,ustice in the law in con,unction with any of the said 2ualifying factors, a law may be
difficult to comply with, but an un,ust law it remains. Thus it is that it loses its nature and finality
as a law. +!ample/ The +-3at as a law is un,ust because the "ery poor and the "ery rich are ta!ed
same a m o u n t i n t h e i r p u r c h a s e o f c o n s u m e r g o o d s 4
.econdly, that the law e2ually applies to all 1 5without fear or fa"or6. This simply means
that e"erybody has e!actly the same standing 1 the same basic human dignity and the basic
human rights 1 before the law. This is the cornerstone of the ma,esty of the law/ it bows to no
one for consideration of power and wealth. 7recisely, herein hinges the ma,esty of the law 1 or
this becomes a ,o#e. +!ample/ 'ecently, nothing less than a whale in authority and might
wriggled out of the legal net while two small fries were caught4
Lastly, that the law is interpreted and applied by a legal system that is not simply wor#ing
as designed and e!pected 1 but categorically wor#ing according to the demands of social ,ustice
specially in terms of its distributi"e dimension that is pro"ident of public welfare or common
goods. (nd this is distinctly not the case when those entities and indi"iduals tas#ed to act
1. +dgardo L. 7aras. Civil Code of the Philippines Annotated. 3olume 1. 0819. pp. 1:, ;:. What the law grants, the
court cannot deny.
0. <scar Cru=. Viewpoints: Personal views and commentaries. http/>>o">0818>8?>dura-le!-sed-
accordingly, either do nothing or act to the contrary. +!ample/ The dysfunctional ,ustice system
in the Country.
When the law is clear, there is no other recourse but to apply it regardless of its
percei"ed harshness. Dura lex sed lex. @onetheless, the law should ne"er be applied or
interpreted to oppress one in order to fa"or another. (s a court of law and of ,ustice, this Court
has the duty to ad,udicate conflicting claims based not only on the cold pro"ision of the law but
also according to the higher principles of right and ,ustice.
t means that you don*t ha"e to obey the law only when it*s easy to do so. -ou must obey
the law e"en when it*s bad for you to do so.
The most common e!ample is a person who doesn*t want to testify in court against a dangerous
criminal. The law says &Tough, testify anyway.&
9. epu!lic of the Philippines Supreme Court. G.R. No. 176707. February 1A, 0818