Blog Lecture No. 59: Repeal of Laws

Howdy-doody!It’s a Sunday and here I find myself lecturing about something very basic in law.

So let’s begin…

What is a repeal?

It is the abrogation of annulling of a previously existing law by enactment of a subsequent statute which declares that the former law shall be revoked and abrogated (an express repeal) or which contains provisions so contrary or irreconciliable with those of the earlier law that only one of the two statutes can stand in force (an implied repeal). (Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th ed., p. 1463; cited in Dean JJ Laurel’s book on Statutory Construction)

What is that in English?

A repeal simply means we’re not following the old law anymore because of the new one.

What is the difference between a repeal and an amendment?

Repeal means complete abrogation or abandonment of the law while amendment is merely a modification of it, leaving some parts intact.

What about a repeal and a suspension?

Repeal is permanent while suspension is merely temporary.

What is the rule on repeals in the Philippines?

According to Article 7 (1) of the Civil Code:

Laws are repealed only by subsequent ones and their violation and non-observance shall not be excused by disuse or custom or practice to the contrary.

Can you give an example?

Well, the law against jaywalking can only be repealed by a law to the contrary (a law allowing anyone to cross any point of the road). Whether people don’t follow this rule or not anymore does not repeal this law.

What are the kinds of repeal?

There are two flavors:

1. Express
2. Implied

What is an express repeal?

A repeal is express when it literally and categorically states so.

For example:

This Proclamation 1021 expressly repeals Proclamation 1017.

What is an implied repeal?

A repeal is implied, without saying it is a repealling law, when the second law is so contrary to the first one that it cannot be reconciled.

For example:

First law: One plus one shall be two.

Second Law: One plus one shall be three.

(If the second law does not say, “This law implies the first law,” then it repeals that law impliedly.

What is the presumption as regards implied repeals?

The Philippine legal system frowns upon implied repeals. Hence, there is a presumption here against it. With the exemption of penal laws, it is holds all the more true because the lawmakers would have expressly repealed outright such law if they really wanted it repealed.

Are repeals retroactive?

As a general rule, a repeal is not retroactive except in penal laws, if it is in favor of the accused.

Why did you lecture on this today?

Let me give you an assignment, for a change.

Read Proclamations 1017 and 1021 and tell me if 1021 expressly or impliedly repealed 1017 (or not at all).


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