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Ignorance of Law as an Excuse. Options
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017 11:20:48 AM

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Location: Jandiāla Guru, Punjab, India
‘Ignorance of Law is no excuse’ is an old adage. Quite a number of accused and simplistic persons have sought refuge taking this plea but courts refused to accept. After a law is enacted, this doctrine assumes that the law in question has been properly promulgated—published and distributed. But it is never assured whether the same has been understood also by the public. Most of the times it takes years for legal luminaries and the apex court to explain the correct meaning of the law and to reach a logical culmination of a simple case.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2017 5:28:15 PM

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How else would lawyers and solicitors make a living, if they didn't make laws so complicated that no-one could understand them?


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 8:26:51 AM

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DragO sir, You are right. But aren't lawyers and solicitors are progeny of bad legislation.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Hope123
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 10:14:02 AM

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I "dunno". I've never had trouble figuring out what the law might not want me to do, even though I have no accurate knowledge of individual laws.

What kinds of laws are we talking about here?

A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it. Albert Einstein
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 11:03:10 AM

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Hi Hope123, broadly it means you can’t claim to be exempt from liability under a law just because you didn’t know there was such a law.

For example, just because you didn’t know that the speed limit was 45 MPH at a particular stretch in the road will not excuse you from being ticketed for driving 60. Similarly, you can’t claim to be exempt from being charged with someone’s murder by arguing that you had no idea that murder was a crime.

I hope I am able to explain.

Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
Hope123
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 11:36:50 AM

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Ashwin Joshi wrote:
Hi Hope123, broadly it means you can’t claim to be exempt from liability under a law just because you didn’t know there was such a law.

For example, just because you didn’t know that the speed limit was 45 MPH at a particular stretch in the road will not excuse you from being ticketed for driving 60. Similarly, you can’t claim to be exempt from being charged with someone’s murder by arguing that you had no idea that murder was a crime.

I hope I am able to explain.


I understood the concept, AJ, but the example about the speed limit gives an example I had not thought of, although in Canada we have lots of signs. I suppose people will try anything...



A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it. Albert Einstein
Ashwin Joshi
Posted: Friday, April 21, 2017 12:02:09 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/3/2016
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Location: Jandiāla Guru, Punjab, India
Hi Hope123; Some other examples;
I don't exactly know who, but most probably, John Kroetch explained it as under;



Under our legal system, Canadians are expected to know what the law says. But this doesn't mean we all have to be legal experts. It's not realistic for everyone to memorize all the laws! Not even lawyers know all this information.

The rule "ignorance of the law is no excuse" really means that people can't defend their actions by claiming they didn't know the law.

It would be too easy for people to break a contract, ignore a neighbour's right to privacy or sell drugs if they could get away with it by arguing they didn't know it was against the law.

However, even when people have good intentions, they sometimes break the law because they don't realize they are doing something illegal. This can happen because our legal system is complicated. When people have good intentions, judges can sometimes be understanding. Judges are less understanding when the actions involve certain kinds of crimes.


Me Gathering Pebbles at The Seashore.-Aj
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