1–4 . . . . . . . . 1/2000
5–6 . . . . . . . . 1/2015
7–8 . . . . . . . . 1/1972
8a . . . . . . . . 1/1972
9–10 . . . . . . . . 1/1982
11–12 . . . . . . . . 1/1970
13–14 . . . . . . . . 1/1993
15–16 . . . . . . . . 1/2015
17–18 . . . . . . . . 1/2000
19–20 . . . . . . . . 1/1972
20a . . . . . . . . 1/1972
21–24 . . . . . . . . 1/1982
ARRANGEMENTS OF SECTIONS
1. Short title
2. Interpretation of words and expressions
3. Acts shall be judicially noticed
4. Notification of approval of appointment, etc.
6. Acts to be divided into sections
7. Mode of citing written laws
8. Schedules and tables to be part of written law
9. Time when written law comes into operation
10. Repealed written law not revived
11. Repeal of amended written law to include amendment
12. Reference to written law to include amendments
13. Continuation of certain repealed laws
14. Provisions respecting effect of repealing written law
15. Construction of amending written law with amended written law
16. Effect of expiry of written law
17. Publication and commencement of subsidiary legislation
18. Retrospective operation of subsidiary legislation
19. Construction of subsidiary legislation
20. Exercise of powers between assent to and commencement of Act
21. General provisions with respect to the power to make subsidiary legislation
22. References to written laws to include subsidiary legislation thereunder
23. Act done under subsidiary legislation deemed done under written law which authorized it
25. Signification of orders by President or a Minister
26. Appointments of officers by name or office
27. Powers and duties to be exercised and performed from time to time
28. Powers and duties of office holder
29. Reference to holder of office includes person discharging
30. Power to appoint substantively pending retirement, etc., of existing holder
31. Effect of appointment to act in a public office
32. Power to appoint to include power to dismiss, etc., and to re-appoint
33. Change of title of public office
34. Construction of enabling words
35. Power of President to delegate authority
36. Power of Ministers and others to delegate
37. Saving in respect of delegations
38. Power of majority of more than two persons
39. Method of appeal to the President or a Minister and appearance thereon
40. Power to appoint chairman, etc., of board, etc.
41. Power to appoint members of board, etc., includes power to appoint public officers and alternates
42. Powers of board, etc., not affected by vacancy or certain defects
42A. Exercise of powers of members of boards, etc., after expiry of office [Repealed by Act No. 21 of 1996].
43. Authentication of decisions, etc., and affixing of common seal
45. Computation of time and meaning of clear days
46. Provision where no time prescribed
47. Construction of power to extend time
48. Measurement of distances
49. Evidence of signature of President, Minister or law officer, etc.
49A. Evidence of execution of instrument under seal by public officer
50. Law officers
51. Ex officio proceeding not to abate on death, etc.
52. Imposition of penalty no bar to civil action
53. Provision as to offences under two or more laws
54. Penalties prescribed may be maximum penalties, but may be cumulative
55. Disposal of forfeits
56. Disposal of fines and penalties
57. Interpretation of applied laws
58. Saving of rights of Government in written laws
59. [Service, etc., of documents]
60. [Repealed by 30 of 1969]
61. Production of Gazette and official copies to be prima facie evidence of contents
62. Power to cancel licences, etc.
63. Act for which payment required need not be performed until payment made
An Act to make provision with regard to the construction,
application and interpretation of written law, to make certain general provisions with regard to such law and other like purposes
[29th August, 1966]
This Act may be cited as the General Interpretation Act.
Interpretation of words and expressions
20 of 1975
(1) In this Act and, subject to section 57, in every other
written law enacted, made or issued before or after the coming
into operation of this Act, the following words and expressions
shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them, unless
there is something in the subject or context inconsistent with such
construction or unless it is therein otherwise provided—
“act” used with reference to an offence or civil wrong includes an omission and extends to a series of acts and omissions;
“Act” used with reference to legislation means an Act of Parliament, an Ordinance, and any applied Act;
“administrative officer” means a District Commissioner or an Assistant District Commissioner;
“amendment” includes repeal, addition, variation and substitution;
“applied Act” means any legislation not enacted by the legislature of Malaŵi which by virtue of the Republic of Malaŵi (Constitution) Act has the force of an Act of Parliament in Malaŵi;
“Cabinet” means the Cabinet constituted by or under the Constitution;
“calendar year” means the period from the 1st January to the 31st December in the same year including both those days;
23 of 1971
“Chief” has the meaning ascribed thereto by section 2 of the Chiefs Act;
“Chief Justice” means the Chief Justice of the High Court;
“cognizable to the police” and “cognizable” used with reference to an offence means that a police officer may arrest without warrant a person whom he suspects upon reasonable grounds of having committed that offence;
“commencement” used with reference to a written law means the date on which that written law comes into operation;
“Commonwealth” or “Commonwealth of Nations” means the Commonwealth of Nations comprised of all the Commonwealth countries;
“Commonwealth citizen” has the same meaning as in the Malaŵi Citizenship Act;
20 of 1975
“Commonwealth country” or “member of the Commonwealth” or “country of the Commonwealth” means any country which is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, and includes any colony, protectorate, trust territory or other dependency of such country;
“Consolidated Fund” means the Consolidated Fund established under the Constitution;
“Constitution” or “Constitution of Malaŵi” means the Constitution of the Republic of Malaŵi established by section 4 of the Republic of Malaŵi (Constitution) Act and set forth in the Second Schedule thereto;
“consular officer” means consul-general, consul, vice-consul, consular agent, and any person for the time being authorized to discharge the duties of consul-general, consul, vice-consul or consular-agent;
“contrayene” in relation to any requirement or conditions specified in any written law, or in any permit, licence or other authority granted under any written law, includes a failure to comply with that requirement or condition;
“court” means any court of the Republic of competent jurisdiction;
“Crown Agents” and “Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations” both mean the persons for the time being acting as Crown Agents in England for Overseas Governments and Administrations;
“customary land” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Land Act;
“customary law” means the customary law applicable in the area concerned;
“District” means one of the districts into which Malaŵi is divided for purposes of administration in accordance with the Regional and
District Boundaries and Place Names Act;
“District Commissioner” means the administrative officer in charge of a District, and “Assistant District Commissioner” shall be construed accordingly;
“District Council” means a District Council established under the Local Government (District Councils) Act, or a District Commissioner or a Commission when performing the functions of a District Council in accordance with the Local Government (District Councils) Act;
“document” includes any matter written, expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means, which is intended to be used or may be used for the purpose of recording that matter;
“export” means to take or cause to be taken out of Malaŵi by any means whatsoever;
“Gazette” means the Malaŵi Government Gazette and includes any supplement thereto and any Gazette Extraordinary;
“General Notice” (or its abbreviated form “Gen.N.”) means any notice published as such in the Gazette;
“Government” means the Government of the Republic established under the Constitution;
“government analyst” includes any assistant or other analyst employed by the Government;
“Government land” has the meaning assigned thereto in the
“Government Notice” (or its abbreviated form “G.N.”) means any notice published as such in the Gazette;
“Government Printer” means the Government Printer of Malaŵi and any other printer authorized by or on behalf of the Government to print any written law or other document of the Government;
“High Court” means the High Court of Malaŵi established under the Constitution;
“immoveable property” means land whether covered by water or not, any estate or interest in or over land or arising out of or relating to land and anything permanently attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything so attached;
“import” means to bring or cause to be brought into Malaŵi by any means whatsoever;
“judge” means a judge of the High Court and includes the Chief Justice;
“judgment” in relation to a court includes decree, order, sentence or decision;
“land surveyor” means a person lawfully entitled to carry out surveys of land under any written law;
“law officer” means a person for the time being holding the office of Attorney-General or Solicitor-General;
“legal practitioner” means a person entitled to practise as such under any Act for the time being applicable to legal practitioners;
5 of 1981
“local authority” means a City Council, a District Council, a Municipal Council or a Town Council;
“magistrate” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Courts Act;
“Malaŵi” means the Republic of Malaŵi and in relation to any period prior to the 6th July, 1964, means the territories comprising the former Nyasaland Protectorate and in relation to any period after that date means the territories comprising the Republic;
“master” used with reference to a ship means the person (except a pilot or harbour-master) having for the time being control, charge or command of such ship, and with reference to an aircraft means the person having for the time being control, charge or command of such aircraft;
“property” includes money, and every description of property, whether movable or immovable, animate or inanimate, obligations and every description of estate, interest and profit, present or future, vested or contingent, arising out of or incident to property;
“public holiday” means a day which is specified as, or deemed to be or interpreted as, a public holiday in accordance with the Public
Holidays Act, or which is declared by the Minister to be a public holiday under the Public Holidays Act;
“public land” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Land Act;
“public office” means any office the holder of which is invested with or performing duties of a public nature;
“public officer” means a person holding or acting in any public office;
“public place” means every public highway, street, road, square, court, alley, lane, bridleway, footway, parade, wharf, jetty, quay, bridge, public garden, open space, theatre, place of public entertainment of any kind and other place to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access whether on payment or otherwise;
“Public Seal” means the Public Seal of Malaŵi;
“Region” means one of the Regions into which Malaŵi is divided for the purposes of administration in accordance with the Regional
and District Boundaries and Place Names Act;
“registered” used with reference to a document means registered under the law for the time being applicable to the registration of such document;
“Registrar General” includes the Assistant Registrar General;
“repeal” includes rescind, revoke, cancel or delete;
“Republic” means the Republic of Malaŵi;
“Resident Magistrate” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Courts Act;
“road” has the meaning assigned to the word street;
“rule” includes rule of court, by-law and regulation;
“rule of court”, when used in relation to any court, means a rule or order made by the authority empowered to make rules or orders regulating the practice and procedure of such court;
“sell” includes barter, exchange, and offer to sell or expose for sale;
“signature” with reference to a person who is unable to write his name, includes mark or thumbprint;
“statutory declaration” if made—
(a) in the Republic, means a declaration made under the Oaths, Affirmations and Declarations Act;
(b) in any other place, means a declaration made before a Malaŵi diplomatic or consular officer, a Notary Public or any other person having authority under the law of that place to take or receive a declaration;
“street” means any highway, street, road, bridge, square, court, alley, lane, bridleway, footway, parade, thoroughfare, passage or open space to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access whether on payment or otherwise;
23 of 1971
“Sub-Chief” has the meaning ascribed thereto by section 2 of the Chiefs Act;
“subordinate court” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Courts Act;
“subsidiary legislation” means a proclamation, regulation, rule, order, notice, by-law or other instrument made under any written law and having legislative effect;
“Supreme Court of Appeal” means the Supreme Court of Appeal established under the Constitution;
“swear” in the case of a person allowed by law to affirm includes affirm;
“Town Council” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Local Government (Urban Areas) Act;
“Township” has the meaning assigned thereto in the Local Government (Urban Areas) Act;
23 of 1971
“Traditional Authority” means, in relation to any part of Malaŵi, a Paramount Chief, Chief, Sub-Chief or any two or more of the persons holding or acting in such offices designated for the time being as the Traditional Authority of and for such part of Malaŵi by the President by notice published in the Gazette;
“treaty” means a treaty, convention or agreement made with a foreign state, together with any protocol, annex or declaration attached thereto, or independent thereof but referring thereto;
“United Kingdom” means Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
“veterinary surgeon” has the meaning assigned to that expression in the
Veterinary Surgeons Act;
“will” includes codicil;
“word” includes figures, punctuation marks, parentheses and typographical, monetary and mathematical symbols;
“writing” and expressions referring to writing include printing, photography, lithography, type-writing and any other modes of representing or reproducing words in visible form;
“written law” includes the Constitution, Acts and subsidiary legislation;
“year” means a year reckoned according to the Gregorian
(2) In every written law, unless a contrary intention appears, words and expressions importing the masculine gender include females, and words and expressions importing the feminine gender include males.
(3) In every written law, unless a contrary intention appears, words and expressions in the singular include the plural and words and expressions in the plural include the singular.
(4) Where the interpretation of any word or expression is defined in this or any other written law, such definition shall extend, with the necessary modifications, to the interpretation of the grammatical variations and cognate expressions of such word or expression.
(5) In every Act, unless a contrary intention appears, the words “chapter”, “part”, “section” and “schedule” denote respectively a chapter, part or section of or schedule to the Act in which the word occurs; and “subsection”, “paragraph” and “subparagraph” denote respectively a subsection of the section or a paragraph or subparagraph of the section, subsection, paragraph or Schedule in which the word occurs. Corresponding expressions in subsidiary legislation shall be similarly construed and interpreted.
Acts shall be judicially noticed
3. Every Act enacted by Parliament shall be a public Act and shall be judicially noticed as such.
Notification of approval of appointment, etc.
4. Where, by or under any written law, it is provided that subsidiary legislation may be made or that any appointment may be made, function performed or power exercised with the approval or consent of, or after consultation with, the President or Minister or any other authority, a
notification published in the Gazette stating that such approval or
consent has been given or that such consultation has taken place shall be prima facie evidence in all courts and for all purposes whatsoever of such approval, consent or consultation.
5. Where a form is prescribed or specified by any written law,
deviations therefrom neither materially affecting the substance nor
calculated to mislead shall not invalidate the form used.
Acts to be divided into sections
6. All Acts shall be divided into sections, if there be more
enactments than one, which sections shall be deemed to be substantive
enactments without any introductory words.
Mode of citing written laws
7.— (1) Where any written law is referred to, it shall be
sufficient for all purposes to cite such written law either by the short title or citation, if any, by which it is made citable, or, in the case of an Act, by the year in which it was made and its
number among the Acts of that year, or, in the case of any revised
edition of the written laws issued under any Act providing for the issue of a revised edition, by its short title or its chapter number, or in the case of subsidiary legislation, by the year in which it was made and the number of the Government Notice or General Notice in which it was published in the Gazette, and the reference may in all cases be made according to the copies of the written law printed by the Government Printer.
(2) Any such citation of a written law shall, unless a contrary intention appears, be construed as a reference to such written law as amended from time to time by any other written law.
and tables to
be part of written law
8. Every Schedule to or table in any written law shall, together with the notes thereto, be construed and have effect as part of such written law.
Time when written law comes into operation
51 of 1971
9.— (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), an Act assented to by the President shall come into operation immediately on the expiration of the day next preceding the day on which it is published in the Gazette.
(2) Where it is enacted in the Act, or in any other written law, that such Act or any provision thereof shall come or be deemed to have come into operation on some specified day, the Act or, as the case may be, such provision shall come or be deemed to have come into operation immediately on the expiration of the day next preceding such day.
(3) Where it is enacted in an Act, that such Act shall come into operation on such date as may be appointed by any person, such person may, by notice or order, bring the Act into operation on a day specified in the notice or order, or may by the same or by different notices or orders bring different provisions of the Act into operation on different dates.
10. Where any written law repealing in whole or in part any former written law is itself repealed, such last repeal shall not revive the written law or provisions before repealed unless words be added reviving such written law or provisions.
Repeal of amended written law to include amendment
11. Where any written law which has been amended by any
other written law is itself repealed, such repeal shall, unless a contrary
intention appears, include the repeal of all those provisions of other
written laws by which such first-mentioned written law has been
Reference to written law to include amendments
12. Where in any written law a reference is made to another written law, such reference shall, unless a contrary intention appears, be deemed to include a reference to such last-mentioned written law as the same may be, from time to time, amended.
Continuation of certain repealed laws
13. Where a written law repeals wholly or partially any former
written law and substitutes provisions for the written law repealed, the repealed written law shall remain in force until the substituted
provisions come into operation.
Provisions respecting effect of repealing written law
14.— (1) Where a written law repeals and re-enacts with or without modification, any provisions of any other written law, then unless a
contrary intention appears—
(a) all proceedings commenced under any provision so repealed shall be continued under and in conformity with the provision so repealed;
(b) in the recovery or enforcement of penalties and forfeitures incurred and in the enforcement of rights existing under any provision so repealed or in any other proceedings in relation to matters which have happened before the repeal, the provision so repealed shall continue to apply;
(c) any reference in any unrepealed written law to any provision so repealed or to any person, authority or matter mentioned in any provision so repealed shall be read and construed as a reference to the provision, person, authority or matter respectively substituted therefor;
(d) any officer or person whose appointment under any provision so repealed was subsisting immediately before such repeal shall continue to hold office under the provision so substituted until another officer or person is appointed in his stead;
(e) any subsidiary legislation made under such repealed provisions shall remain in force, so far as it is capable of being made under the repealing written law, and is not inconsistent therewith, until it has been revoked or repealed by any other written law, and shall be deemed for all purposes to be subsidiary legislation made under such repealing written law.
(2) Where a written law repeals in whole or in part any other written law, then, unless a contrary intention appears, the repeal shall not—
(a) revive anything not in force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect;
(b) affect the previous operation of any written law so repealed or anything duly done or suffered under any written law so repealed;
(c) affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any written law so repealed;
(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against any written law so repealed; or
(e) affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid, and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed, as if the repealing written law had not been made.
Construction of amending written law with amended written law
15. Where one written law amends another written law, the
amending written law shall, so far as it is consistent with the tenor
thereof, and unless a contrary intention appears, be construed as one with the amended written law.
Effect of expiry of written law
16. Upon expiry of any written law section 14 (2) shall apply as if such written law had been repealed.
Publication and commence-
25 of 1968
17.— (1) No subsidiary legislation shall come into operation unless it has been published in the Gazette, but the date of commencement shall be in accordance with subsection (2).
(2) Where no date of commencement is expressly provided therein or in any other written law, subsidiary legislation shall come into operation on the expiry of the day immediately preceding the day of its publication in the Gazette or, where it is enacted either therein or in some other written law that subsidiary legislation shall come into operation on some specified day, subject to section 18, it shall come into operation on the expiry of the day immediately preceding that day.
Retrospective operation of subsidiary legislation
1 of 1969
18. Any subsidiary legislation, except where a contrary intention
appears, may be made to operate retrospectively to any date, not being a date earlier than the commencement of the written law under which such subsidiary legislation is made, but so, however, that no person shall be made or become liable to any penalty whatsoever in respect of any act committed or failure to do anything before the day on which such subsidiary legislation is published in the Gazette.
Construction of subsidiary legislation
19. In all subsidiary legislation, except where a contrary intention appears—
(a) expressions used shall have the same respective meanings as in the written law under the authority of which the subsidiary legislation was made;
(b) any reference to “the Act” or to “the Ordinance” shall mean the Act or Ordinance under the authority of which the subsidiary legislation was made.
Exercise of powers between assent to and commence-
ment of Act
20. Where an Act which confers power to make any appointment,
to make subsidiary legislation, to prescribe forms or to do any
other thing for the purposes of the Act, has been assented to by the
President in accordance with the Constitution, such power may, unless a contrary intention appears, be exercised at any time after such assent, so
however that any subsidiary legislation or appointment made or other thing done in exercise of such power shall not take effect until the Act comes
into operation except to the extent necessary for bringing the Act into operation.
General provisions with respect to the power to make subsidiary legislation
21. Where any written law confers power on any person to make subsidiary legislation, the following provisions shall, unless a contrary intention appears, have effect with reference to the making of subsidiary legislation—
(a) where any subsidiary legislation purports to be made in exercise of a particular power or powers, it shall be deemed also to be made in exercise of all powers thereunto enabling;
(b) no subsidiary legislation shall be inconsistent with the provisions of any Act and any such legislation shall be of no effect to the extent of such inconsistency;
(c) subsidiary legislation may at any time be amended by the same person by whom and in the same manner in which it was made:
Provided that, where such person has been replaced wholly or in part by another person, the power conferred thereby upon the original person may be exercised by the replacing person concerning all matters or things within his jurisdiction as if he were the original person;
(d) where any written law confers power on any person to make subsidiary legislation for any general purpose, and also for any special purpose incidental thereto, the enumeration of the special purpose shall not be deemed to derogate from the generality of the powers conferred with reference to the general purpose;
5 of 1981
19 of 1992
(e) there may be annexed to the breach of any subsidiary legislation such penalty not exceeding K1,000 or such term of imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both such fine and imprisonment, as the authority making the subsidiary legislation may think fit.
References to written laws to include subsidiary legislation thereunder
22. Any reference to a written law shall, except where a contrary intention appears, include a reference to any subsidiary legislation made under the written law to which rerefence is made.
Act done under subsidiary legislation deemed done under written law which authorizes it
23. An act shall be deemed to be done under any written law or by virtue of the powers conferred by any written law or in pursuance or execution of the powers of or under the authority of any written law, if it is done under or by virtue of or in pursuance of subsidiary legislation made under any power contained in that written law.
24.— (1) Where any written law confers power on any person to make subsidiary legislation, and provision may be made by such
subsidiary legislation in respect of fees or other charges, such subsidiary legislation may, unless a contrary intention appears, provide for all or any of the following matters—
(a) specific fees or charges;
(b) maximum fees or charges;
(c) minimum fees or charges;
(d) the payment of fees or charges either generally or under specific conditions or in specific circumstances; and
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