Statutory Interpretation

Statutory Intrepretation

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Law Revision Notes
Statutory Interpretation
"In Statutory Interpretation, you need to consider the various
rules which are available to Judges, and the different aids that
Judges may use and how the use of different rules have given
Judges more freedom"
Rules of Interpretation
Literal Rule Words in a statute must be given their plain,
ordinary or Literal meaning. The objective of the Court is to
discover the intention of Parliament as expressed in the words
used. It is used even if it produces absurd results, in which case
the remedy is for Parliament to pass an amending statute.
Whitely v Chappell 1868 Pretended to be someone who had
died in order to use that persons' vote. The wording of the act is
"Personating any person entitled to vote". As dead people cannot
vote, the defendant was held not to have committed an offence.
London & North Eastern Railway v Berriman 1946 Fatal
Accidents Act (Designed to give a Railway workers family
compensation in case of accidents), was interpreted in a Literal
way where Mrs Berrimans' wife was denied compensation. The
Act referred to repairing/relaying the lines, and Mr Berriman was
maintaining the line, by topping up oil boxes at the point where
the accident occurred.
Encourages precision in drafting
Respects the power of Parliament
Prevents Judges rewriting the Law
Gives more certainty
Assumes drafting is correct
Ignores limitations of language
Prevents Judges looking at a wider context
Leads to absurd decisions
Golden Rule Provides that if the words used are ambiguous, the
Court should adopt an interpretation which avoids an absurd
Re Sigsworth 1935 The defendant murdered his mother. She
did not have a Will and he stood to inherit her estate as next of
kin, by being her "issue". The Court applied the Golden Rule and
held that the defendant shouldn't benefit from the Fruits of his

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R v Allen 1872 The defendant was married and married again. It
was an offence for a married person to "Marry" again unless they
were widowed or divorced. When caught the defendant argued
that he did not commit this offence as the Law regarded his
second marriage as invalid. The court held that the word "Marry"
could also mean a person who "Goes through a ceremony of
marriage", and so found guilty.…read more

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Judges can rewrite Statute Law, which only Parliament
allowed to do
Must be possible to discover the Mischief in order for
the rule
to be used
Purposive Approach A modern descendant of the Mischief
approach. It is said to "Promote the general legislative purpose
underlying the provisions". The court will look at the purpose of
the Statute and apply it to the case in front of them.…read more

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Commission, and how
they are appointed.
Interpretation Sections ­ These set out lists, sometimes
quite long ones, of what meanings are intended for certain
words used elsewhere in the Act.
Extrinsic Found outside the Statute.
Oxford English Dictionary. For example Cheeseman v DPP
1990 ­ Guy masturbating in Public Toilets Police see
Judge defined "Passenger" in Dictionary
Law Commission reports ­ To ascertain what "Mischief", or
problem, Parliament may have intended to address in
creating a Statute.
Hansard ­ The recording of Debates in Parliament.…read more

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é did not need a license because it
didn't provide entertainment. The Court held that
"Entertainment" did not mean musical entertainment but the
reception and accommodation of people, so the defendant was
Expressio unius est exclusio alterius (The express mention of one
thing is the exclusion of another)
Tempest v Kilner 1846 A statute required that contracts for the
sale of "Goods, wares and merchandise" of £10 or more had to
be evidenced in writing.…read more


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