rule of interpretation

“Shall” can also mean “May”

A.T. Ltd. v. A.D.H. Ltd. [2007] 15 NWLR (Pt. 1056) 118 at 154, para C, per Tabai, JSC:

“…I prefer a construction of the word “Shall” in the proviso to section 234 of the Constitution to be “May”, conveying a directory or permissive connotation and having room for some discretion as to when to constitute a panel of seven Justices in appeals with respect to questions under section 233(2)(b) and (c) of the Constitution”.

Blogger’s Note:

His lordship, Tabai, JSC, also stated at p. 151-152 of the report, after considering the state of the authorities, that ‘there is no laid down rule as to whether the word, “shall” used in a statute carries mandatory or merely directory connotation and that its real purport depends, by and large, on the particular context in which it is used…  Whether the word “shall” in an enactment conveys an obligatory rather than merely directory or permissive connotation depends on the very context in which it used and that its construction, whether used in the Constitution, Statute or Rules of Court is the same.
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