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Literal Rule
Under this rule, the courts will give words their plain, ordinary or literal meaning, even if the result is not very sensible. This
idea was expressed by Lord Esher in R v Judge of the City of London Court (1892) when he said:
"It the words of an act are clear then you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The court has
nothing to do with the question whether the legislature has committed an absurdity.…read more

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Golden Rule:
This rule is a modification of the literal rule. The court is allowed to avoid an interpretation which would lead to an absurd
result. The narrow application of the golden rule, shown in Jones v DPP 1962:
"If they are capable of more than one meaning, then you can choose between those meanings, but beyond this you
cannot go."
This allows the court to choose between the possible meanings of a word or phrase.…read more

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Mischief Rule:
This rule gives a judge more discretion than the previous two. The definition of the rule came from Heydon's case (1584),
where it was said there were four points the court should consider:
1. What was the common law before the making of the Act?
2. What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide?
3. What was the remedy Parliament decided on?
4. The true reason of the remedy.…read more

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Purposive rule (approach):
The purposive approach is the broadest rule, which can lead to justice in individual cases. It allows the law to cover more
situations than applying words literally. It basically searches for the purpose behind the Act, so is similar to the mischief
Fill gaps in the law.
Useful if there is new technology which was unknown when the law was enacted.
Covers many situations.
Makes the law less certain.…read more


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