Statutory Interpretation

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  • STATUTORY INTERPRETATION
    • LITERAL APPROACH
      • Victorian approach where the judge reads the statute as a whole, putting the words into context and in doing so giving the words their plain, ordinary, normal and grammatical meaning.
        • - The words of the statute are assigned to their natural meaning and so the courts are declaring Parliament's true intention through the words used.  - The most common rule of interpretation and the least controversial. - Often make use of a dictionary.     - This approach is heavily criticised as it has been seen to lead to injustice.
          • R v Judge of the City of London Court (1982), Lord Esher stated; If the words of the Act are clear, you must follow them, even if they lead to a manifest absurdity.
    • GOLDEN RULE
      • This approach is a modification of the literal approach. This means the judge will follow the literal interpretation giving the words their normal meaning, unless this would lead to an injustice, absurdity or an offence against public policy.
        • Where there is an absurdity or injustice, the courts have two options under the Golden Rule:  1. Narrow application (ambiguous words) occurs when the word in the statute is capable of having more than one meaning.                            2. With a broader application (where the words are clear but would lead to injustice or absurdity) the statute may be altered within the context of the Act. This is only to clear up the problem identified and the modification to the words should go no further than that.

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