PERCEPTION AND DOCTRINES OF THE LAW
Words have no meaning in themselves. A lawyer should be a scientist in the laboratory of words. He must know how to manipulate and exploit words. Words are the forms of expressing thoughts for apprehension and understanding.
Words have four elements: a. the utterer who makes the statement b. the symbol which means the characteristics of what is defined c. the referrer which is the thing being defined d. the utteree who is the listener being able to apprehend.
Language of the law is particular to settle disputes in the court of law and the layman is not expected to understand. Lawyers generally have a common attitude to the language of words.
Methods of Perception
This is a theory which puts label or names on things.
This theory tries to capture the essence of things especially its properties, characteristics and elements so that the audience can appreciate the thing.
The theory provides an idea or reduces a thing into a concept which is merely in the mind without any physical contact.
4. Instrumentalism or Teleology:
The theory defines something in relation to the function it performs. For example, when the ink in a pen is finished, can it still be regarded as a pen?
Perception depends on the kind of thing to be perceived which is determined by the symbol and idea of what is to be described in the mind and objects in existence outside the mind.
To the lawyers, words have no meaning unless in the context in which they are used. In law therefore, if you do not use the right word, your audience might find it difficult to understand and convey to others. This leads us to pedagogy which means thinking about something and thinking about how to convey to another person so that that other person can capture and also convey to others.
The Russians have a saying that lawyers seldom agree and disputation is part of law. In fact where there are three lawyers giving their perception of a thing, it is not impossible to have three different definitions/perceptions from these three lawyers.
Doctrines of Law
The first is the imperative concept which looks at law as a diktat, that is, a series of command and sanctions issued by a sovereign that are to be obeyed. This concept falls under positivism (man-made laws) as opposed to natural law (the law of God) which does not change.
The second is the institutional concept which looks at law in terms of enforcement. This doctrine posits that if the law is not capable of enforcement, it is no law. This means that courts, prisons, police and other law enforcement organs must be put in place.
The third is the ethical doctrine (founded on morality) which sees law as an instrument of justice. Thus, for a law to qualify as law, it must be good and reasonable. An unjust law is no law at all. This concept is part of natural law. But the point must be noted that lawyers are not interested in justice, their priority is the law. In the lawyer’s view, if at all justice is sought, it must be according to the law.
Ultimately, we have the social control conception of law. The doctrine posits that law is a means of controlling society to ensure order. Roscoe Pound propounded this theory. Here, law tries to ensure the optimal functioning of the society in terms of allocation of resources to different members of the society