Advantages and disadvantages of the golden rule


Advantages and disadvantages of the golden rule


  • Provides an 'escape route' from the absurd and unjust results produced by the literal rule.
  • By avoiding absurdities and injustices, the golden rule puts Parliament 's true intentions into force, closes loopholes
  • The rule still respects the constitutional doctrines of Separation of Powers ans Supremacy of Parliament by only allowing judges enough freedom to correct errors- they are not deciding what Parliament intended


  • There is no clear guidance about how and when the rule should be used and no definition of what an absurd result is before deciding to avoid it.
  • It is very limited in its use, so it is only used on rare occasions. Another problem is that it is not always possible to predict when courts will use the golden rule.
  • Judges can and have effectively re-written statute law which goes against the doctrines of Separation of Powers and Supremacy of Parliament (Re Sigsworth)


As the golden rule is a spin off from the literal rule it is not used much anymore in favour of the purposive approach. Cases that demonstrate the golden rule are: R v Allen (bigamy), Adler v George (army base) and Re Sigsworth (will)


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