Judicial attitude to semantic and grammatical ambiguities in law

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Kogi State University Bi-annual Journal of Public Law


Words are integral component of language and language is an indisputable tool of expression. It is through language we communicate and pass instruction across. Language may take form of sign, writing or oral expressions. However, be it sign, written or conversational, the need may arise for the explanation and or interpretative effort for proper understanding of the word and meaning it convey. For example, literary critics, who appraise literary work of arts, need to interpret. A historian, who engages in the work of trying to understand or furnish a reckoning of past, events and roles of personalities, do interpret and give meaning out of what may be considered happened by accident or chance. This equally applies to judges saddled with judicial powers when faced with ambiguous word in statue to invoke their powers under the constitution to interpret and bring out the intent of the maker. When we discuss semantic and grammatical ambiguities in law, therefore, we are talking about word in its usage and the meaning it convey to the listeners, as intended by the maker(legislature) and judicial business in giving or interpreting the words as used. Thus, the focus of this article is to examine the relation between law and English language and the attitude of court in its authoritative interpretative jurisdiction to find the meaning and intent of the legislature where there is or no grammatical ambiguity therein and suggestion on ways to avoid ambiguity in statue.



law, judiciary, language, interpretation, cannon, rules