YOUR ATTORNEY: ATYAB ALSHATTI
One of the first things that comes to mind when trying to understand the law is a funny short story that some of you may have heard. It explains the saying ‘Law will not protect the ignorant’. It’s a useful story from which we learn many things about the law.
It’s about a man who was very poor and was the only provider of his family. He was depressed and had tried all means to earn money but his methods were unsuccessful and failed to relieve him from poverty. But then he had an idea. He published an advertisement in the newspaper which said: ‘If you want to know how to be rich, send 1$ by mail to the following address…’ (his personal address).
People began to send money wanting to know the secret to wealth. It worked because 1$ was not expensive for them. Lots of money was pouring in from the readers of that newspaper until, eventually, he became a millionaire. After earning this money, he published an advertisement in the same newspaper explaining how he became wealthy from 1$ sent by each person. But the people who read this ad and had sent money were really upset when they read it and wanted to sue him in the courts to get their money back.
But the Judgment passed by the Court was interesting and mocked their claims because the action of this man was legally correct and he was not obligated to return the money to them. The law will not protect the people who didn’t acknowledge it. It is a wonderful story from which we learn the real content of the law because each action taken by people makes them responsible for the consequences of that action, even if they didn’t know it before. The ignorance of the legal stipulation for any action is not a reason to relieve such person from applying the law against him or to be exempt from punishment. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each person who lives in any country to know the law of this country and to abide by it.
I remember when I was young I went to Singapore and I was chewing gum while myself and my mom were walking in the streets. A policeman stopped us and began berating my mother in a language which I didn’t understand. I learned afterwards that chewing gum was prohibited in the streets. It was a very embarrassing situation and I wished I had known the law to avoid such a situation. Also I remember when I was in England and I tried to play with my kite in the streets, a policeman came and reprimanded my mother with ambiguous words. I knew I had done something serious and my mother was taking the blame instead of me. I wonder if dancing in the streets in South Africa is a violation to be penalized. I also tried that at a small age but there was no policeman who came to speak to my mother that time.
Laws are different from one State to another. For example in Kuwait there is no problem to chew gum in public areas but in Singapore it is different. Some of the foreigners in Kuwait think that importing or drinking alcohol is a legal thing to do but, in fact, it is a crime which is punishable with 6 months in prison. It is very important to know the laws before visiting any country.< Back