As Statutory Intrepretation

Notes on AS Law- statutory intrepretation

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Statutory Interpretation
As legislation has increased in length and scope; the great majority
of legal cases now concern some aspect of statutory interpretation.
In practice, it is impossible to draft a statute which covers all
eventualities and is free from conflict about its application.
In order to assist judges in determining the meaning of law, `rules' of
statutory interpretation have developed through the courts. It is
difficult to ascertain the exact intention of Parliament at the time a
particular statute was passed, and climate changes may affect this
retrospectively. The process of statutory interpretation is creative ­
the judges themselves develop the law according to their own
understanding and interpretive priorities.
1978 ­ Parliament passed the Interpretation Act ­ defines `he' as `he
and she' etc.
Problems with the Law
Dangerous Dogs Act 1995 ­ broad terms used which are not fully
College of Nursing v DHSS (1981) over the Abortion Act 1967­
technological developments can outdate legislation
Cheesman v DPP (1990) ­ changes in language (`passenger')
The traditional approach is known as the literal rule. This was
described by the Lord Chancellor of 1951 - Lord Simonds ­ as, "a
duty of the court to interpret the words that the legislature has
used... the power and the duty of the court to travel outside them...
is strictly limited." Therefore, the risk of undermining Parliamentary
sovereignty is reduced. Zander described the literal rule as
"mechanical, divorced from the realities of the use of language."
The Literal Rule
CHAPPELL & WHITELEY (1868) ­ impersonating a dead person is
not impersonating a person entitled to vote
R v HARRIS (1836) ­ `stab, cut or wound' does not involve use of
LONDON RAILWAY Co v BERRIMAN (1946) ­ `relaying and
repairing' does not include maintenance
The literal rule may fail to express the intention of Parliament.
Therefore, the golden rule developed. This states that where the
application of the literal rule leads to a manifest absurdity, the

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This approach caters for the need that a
circumstance may arise which Parliament failed to see or expect ­ it
is more realistic than the literal rule. However, like the literal rule,
the golden rule still prioritises what Parliament said rather than
what it may have meant. Very rarely do words only have one
possible meaning.…read more

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One of the Lords stated that the function of Customs is to intercept
such goods; and so it would be absurd to not punish the defendant.
The use of a purposive approach in the English Legal System has
grown, as it is often the method adopted by the European Court of
Justice. (College of Nursing case 1981)
Internal Aids - the statute in its entirety, the short title, the long
title, marginal notes, section headings, schedules, preamble.…read more

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Noscitur a Sociis ­ a word should be interpreted within
context…read more


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