Statutory Interpretation

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  • Statutory interpretation
    • Literal Rule
      • This should be the first rule applied to a case by judges; the words are given their natural or ordinary first meaning, without the judge seeking to put a gloss on the word to make sense of the statute.
      • This rule was considered by Lord Esher in R V THE JUDGE OF THE CITY OF LONDON COURT 1892; if the words of an act are clear, you must follow them, even though they lead to a manifest of absurdity, the court has nothing to do with the question of whether the legislature has committed an absurdity
      • CASE: FISHER V BELL
        • Fisher was not found guilty of "offering for sale or hire" because displaying the knife was merely an invitation to treat, not an offer, and thus no liability arose
      • CASE: LONDON EASTERN RAILWAY CO V BERRIMAN
        • The wife wasn't entitled to compensation because her husband wasn't "relaying or repairing" he was oiling thr tracks. The golden rule coudn't be applied because there was no ambiguity in the words
      • CASE: WHITLEY V CHAPPELL
        • The defendant was found not guilty of impersonating any person entitled to vote, as a dead person is not, in the literal meaning "entitled to vote"
      • ADVANTAGE 1) respects parliamentary supremacy    2) ensures consistancy in the law          3) makes it easier for solicitors to anticiapte the outcome of the case              4) ensures all cases are treat the same 5) ensures that the rolde of the judge is to apply the law
      • DISADVANTA-GE               1) leads to unjust and absurd results 2) provides loopholes in the law, bad law is then embedded in the legal system          3) meanings of words change over time               4) expects parliament to be perfect
    • Potential reasons
      • Broad terms
        • This occurs where words are used to cover several possibilities eg. "type" speads to cover breed, genre, colour etc
          • CASE: BROCK V DPP 1993
      • Ambiguity
        • Often words and phrases are compromised between the two houses of Parliment which can lead to confusion over the actual meaning of the word when applied to cases eg. a word may have 2 meaning and it may be unclear which one was intended by parliament
          • CASE: R V ALLEN 1872
      • Drafting errors
        • Drafting can be poor or over complicated because there's little time to ensure it's clear and unambiguous, or the drafts man mis- understood what was meant by parliament
          • CASE: FISHER V BELL 1960
      • Changes in the use of language
        • The meaning of words change over time so this can cause confusion when applying to law to a case that is a long tie after the act was made eg. "gay"
          • CASE: CHEESEMAN V DPP
      • Technological advances
        • As society changes, so does the definition of words and long lists aren't exhaustive, there is always something parliament miss eg. an act made 50 years ago couldn't have predicted the internet and social media
          • CASE: ROYAL COLLEGE OF NURSING V DHSS 1981

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