Rules of interpretation

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  • Created by: Zoe
  • Created on: 29-12-12 16:10
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  • rules of interpretation
    • literal rule
      • Lord reid: in determining the meaning of any word or phrase the forst question to ask is always what is  the natural and ordinary meaning of that word'
      • Cases for literal rule
        • LNER V Berriman: LAW: railway companies had a duty to supply a lookout man when a railway worker was replacing or relaying the tracks.
          • Mr Berrimans job was to OIL  the tracks and his employer did not provide a lookout man for him so he died by getting hit by a train. COURT HELD: oiling the tracks is merely maintaining so mrs berriman did not receive any money for the damages for the loss of her husband
        • Whitely V Chappel: LAW: it is an offence to impersonate any person entitled to vote at an election
          • The defendant  voted in the name of a deceased person COURT HELD: no offence had been commited dead people are not technically 'entitled to vote'
    • Mischief rule
      • Allows judges to look at the gap in the law which parliament felt necessary to fill when passing the act.
      • Judges do not focus on the words written by parliament, they decide what they think parliament was aiming to remedy
      • Cases for mischief rule
        • Smith V Hughs LAW: under the street offences act: offence to solicit in the street or a public place
          • Prostitute solicited men from a balcony and through a window COURT HELD: Defendant found guilty as the act was aiming to clean up the streets.
    • Purposive rule
      • Modern version of the mischief rule
      • since joining the EU, courts have been using this rule more because  european legislation is drafted in broad terms so judges have to fill in the gaps-supported by lord denning (Bulmer v Bollinger)
      • cases for the purposive rule
        • Jones V Tower boot co. LAW: race relations act what constitutes course of employment:
          • young black worker was verbally and physically abused in his workplace. employer argued these action fell outside their course of employment and were not responsible. COURT HELD: intention was to eliminate discrimination
      • Law commission recomended that the preference for interpretation would be to promote the general purpose of an act
    • Golden rule
      • narrow approach
        • If the word or phrase has more than one meaning, the judge can select the meaning which avoids absurdity
        • Case for narrow approach
          • Allen: LAW: offence against the person act: offence to marry again without the previous marriage being ended by a divorce
            • defendant argued the word 'marry' meant to legally marry again (which would be impossible) however the judge chose the definition that said it was to go through a formal ceremony COURT HELD:  he was therefore found guilty
      • Broad approach
        • If the word has only one meaning, the court may modify it to avoid an absurdity
        • Case for broad approach
          • Adler V George: LAW: official secrets act stated it is an offence to obstruct a member of the armed forces in the vicinity of a prohibited place
            • The defendant obstructed them IN the prohibited place , not the vicinity of it COURT HELD: interpreted the phrase to include inside the prohibited place so they were found guilty
      • ultimately allows judges to modify the meaning of words as stated by parliament to avoid absurd results


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