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DOCTRINES OF STATUTORY INTERPRETATION

Doctrine 01: Noscitur a Sociis


Meaning: The meaning of an unclear word or phrase is to be determined on the basis of its context surrounding
it. The word Noscitur means knowledge and a Sociis means Association. So the doctrine of noscitur a sociis
means, the meaning of a word is to be known by its associates words.
Explanation: When a word is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined by reference to the rest of the
statute. It is a rule of language used by the courts to interpret legislation. Under the doctrine of noscitur a
sociis the questionable meaning of a word or doubtful words may be ascertained by reference to the meaning
of other words associated with it. This means the meaning of that words are related to each other.
Doctrine 02: Generalia specialibus non derogant
Definition: Generalia specialibus non derogant is a Latin maxim which means universal things do not derogate
from specific things. It is a basic principle of statutory interpretation. When a matter falls under any specific
provision, then it must be governed by that provision and not by the general provision. The general provisions
must admit to the specific provisions of law.
The rule provides that where an earlier statute expressly and precisely deals with a particular issue, a later
statute, enacted in general terms will not repeal the earlier instrument unless the contrary intention is indicated
within the legislation.
It is frequent that for resolution of apparent conflict between the two provisions of the same statute, the rule of
harmonious construction, invites the application of the maxim generalia specialibus non derogant. This
principle is used to deal with difficulties which may arise when a statute is enacted whose provisions conflict
with those of an earlier statute. The statute containing general subject matter is generally taken not to affect one
which applies to a specific matter.
Doctrine 03: ut res magis valeat quam pereat
The modern approach to statutory interpretation insists that context and purpose be considered in the first
instance, especially in the case of general words.
The maxim ut res magis valeat quam pereat means a thing to have effect than to be made void. Thus, it has
been said that, if the language is not as intractable as to be incapable of being consistent with the presumption,
the presumption should prevail.
Doctrine 04: Ejusdem Generis
Ejusdem generis is a rule of statutory interpretation. The term "ejusdem generis" may be read as "of the same
class"or of the same category and used to interpret loosely written statutes. Where a law lists specific classes of
persons or things and then refers to them in general, the general statements apply only to the same kind of
persons or things specifically listed.
This rule reflects an attempt to reconcile incompatibility between the specific and general words in
view of the other rules of interpretation. The meaning of the general word is restricted to the meaning of the
preceding words, with the effect that the general word does not expand beyond the subjects or classes of the
preceding words.

Example 01: if a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and other motor-powered vehicles,
"vehicles" would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation.
Example 02: where an exclusion clause in an insurance contract states that liability will be excluded by
damage caused by "acts of god, flood, fire or otherwise", the term "otherwise" relates only to damage of the
same class as the preceding words. Thus the clause would not exclude liability for damage caused by riots, but
may do for damage caused by gas leaks.
Doctrine 05: Expressio unius est exclusio alterius
Meaning: The expression of one thing is the exclusion of another. When one or more things of a class are
expressly mentioned others of the same class are excluded. This is yet another maxim of statutory construction
is i.e. expressio unius est exclusio alterius. Roughly translated, this phrase means that whatever is omitted is
understood to be excluded. Thus, if a statute provides for a specific sanction for noncompliance with the statute,
other sanctions are excluded and cannot be applied.
The maxim is based on the rationale that if the legislature had intended to accommodate a particular remedy it
would have done so expressly. If the legislature did not provide for such an event, it should be assumed that it
meant not to. The maxim has wide application and has been used by courts to interpret constitutions, treaties,
wills, and contracts as well as statutes.
Limitation:
Expressio unius est exclusio alterius does have its limitations. The maxim should be disregarded where an
expanded interpretation of a statute will lead to beneficial results or will serve the purpose for which the statute
was enacted.
The general meaning of expression of one thing is the exclusion of another also known as the negative
implication rule. This rule assumes that the legislature intentionally specified one set of criteria as opposed to
the other. Therefore, if the issue to be decided addresses an item not specifically named in the statute, it must be
assumed the statute does not apply.
The expression of one thing is the exclusion of another. In construing statutes, contracts, wills, and the like
under this maxim, the mention of one thing within the statute or other document implies the exclusion of
another thing not so mentioned.
Exceptions:
1 The rule here is that if Congress enumerates specific exceptions in a general prohibition, other
exceptions will not be
recognized in the absence of explicit legislative direction.
2 That is, unless the court chooses to disregard this rule.
3 As we have held repeatedly, the canon does not apply to every statutory listing or grouping; it has force
only when the
items expressed are members of an associated group or series justifying the inference
that items not mentioned were excluded by deliberate choice, not inadvertence.
When the statute provides for a particular procedure, the authority has to follow the same and cannot be
permitted to act in contravention of the same. It has been hither to uncontroverted legal position that where a
statute requires to do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other
methods or mode of performance are impliedly and necessarily forbidden.