Literal Rule of Statutory Interprtation

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  • The Literal Rule
    • Judge takes 'plain, ordinary, natural' means of the words of an act even if it leads to absurdity
    • Whiteley v Chappell
      • Act said it was an offence to impersonate a person 'entitled to vote'
        • D impersonated a dead person in a ballot; dead person is not literally entitled to vote
          • D was not guilty
    • LNER v Berriman
      • Mr B was 'maintaining' the rack when he was killed by a train
        • Act said railway board had to provide a lookout man when workers were 'relaying or repairing'
          • Court decided that Berriman was not covered by the act so widow could not claim compensation
    • Rule often involves use of the act to help e.g. cheeseman - judge used dictionary of 1847 to find the meaning of passenger


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