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Statutory Interpretation

Many cases come before the courts because there is conflict over the meaning of the Act.
It is the judge's role to work out the meaning of the law.
Judges are provided with the Interpretation Act 1978.
Bennion, an academic suggested possible misinterpretations:
New developments
Broad terms

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The Golden Rule

From the early 20th Century.
The rule states that the Literal Rule should be followed unless it would lead to an absurd
decision Parliament would not have intended.
It is known as the "safety valve".
The rule developed from the case of Becke V Smith (1843).

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The Mischief Rule

The courts discover reasons for the law by looking at the old fault and trying to fix it.
Heydon's case 1584.
The judge should consider:
o The old law before the statute
o The problem Parliament wanted to resolve
o What remedy Parliament wanted to achieve

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The Purposive Approach

Current approach to statutory interpretation.
Similar to the Mischief Rule.
Judges will seek to find Parliament's intention.
The court tries to discover reasons for which Parliament passed the statute.
They then give the words a meaning to fulfil its purpose.
Modern day.


Royal College of Nursing…

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Aids to Interpretation

Intrinsic Aids: things inside the statute.

Rules of Language ­these help to work out the meaning of words/phrases.

Enjusdem Generis ­ "of the same kind"
Used with a list of words
Followed by the phrase "and any others"
"any others" must be the same kind of those…

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Explanatory notes helpful since 1999 onwards Many older Acts (pre 1999) do not have
explanatory notes
Agrees with Separation of Powers

Extrinsic Aids: things outside the statute.

Records of all the debates taken place in Parliament.
Courts have been allowed to use Hansard since Pepper V Hart (1992).

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More comprehensive view of Parliament's Conflicts with Parliamentary Sovereignty
More material to refer to than just the Act Can be lengthy/costly process
Deal more effectively with any issues by Conflicts with Separation of Powers
referring to a wider scope of information
Particularly useful for Mischief Rule and Lord Scarman:…


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