Understanding the Law
July 27, 2018

Exculpatory is a word that is heard quite frequently these days. It is used in regard to evidence.

It is a Latin word, that means, “free from blame.” The verb from exculpatory is ‘exculpate’, which means “to free from crime and blame.” The opposite of exculpatory is inculpatory. It shows guilt.

In a criminal case exculpatory evidence is favourable to the defendant. Evidence that is exculpatory tends to justify and exonerate a person. The evidence before a criminal court is either exculpatory or inculpatory for the defendant. The prosecutor must disclose evidence that shows inculpatory and exculpatory evidence in a case. The knife that was used to stab the victim could be inculpatory evidence if it is proven to be that used by the defendant. The blood of the victim found on the defendant could be inculpatory.


Blacks dictionary describes it as “the formal allegations by the parties to a law suit of their respective claims and defenses, with the intended purpose being to provide notice of what is to be expected at trial.”
In short, pleadings consist of the facts as stated by the parties, either in the claim form or in a defense. The Civil Procedure Rules CPR 2000 gives the rules governing pleadings. Pleadings consist of all the claims stated in a claim form by the claimant, the defence by the defendant and a reply by the claimant, in that order. More information based on the pleadings can be brought before the court through discovery, case management and pre-trial conferences. The defendant’s defense serves to rebut or agree with all the claims made by the claimant in his claim form.


This is an ordinary word, but of significance in our laws. It is a change or a modification “for the better” (Black). It serves to correct an error. Amendment is made to alter or delete a statement, in for example, an order, a judgment or pleading. Its main purpose is to correct an error not to give a new judgment.

In a pleading it is done before it is served on the party, or by the consent of the parties. An original judgment of the court can be corrected if there is a substantive error. It is done to clear any misconception of a manifest mistake. Our House of Assembly can make amendments to the law to modify the law. There are majority or two-thirds votes depending on the matter.


A jurisdiction is a geographical area over which law is exercised. The state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines constitutes a jurisdiction. The other states in the Caribbean constitute their own jurisdiction. Authority is given by law to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters. In our jurisdiction there are magistrate courts and a lone High Court with authority to try cases.

The Magistrate Court deals with summary matters and the High Court deals with matters on indictments. The Magistrate Court has jurisdiction on less serious matters, while the High Court has jurisdiction over more serious matters, like murder and rape. In its civil jurisdiction the High Court has jurisdiction over disputes involving large sums of money, probate of estates matters, as well as matrimonial matters (divorces).

A case is not tried in a jurisdiction of your choice, it is in the jurisdiction that the law permits. Therefore the question of jurisdiction is the first one to answer.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law. E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com