Statutory Interpretation; Unit 1 - Notes

Notes made from a combination of resources including the Nelson Thornes text book and Philip Allan revision guide.

Covers the Statutory Interpretation option form the Law Making half of the course; Approaches, Aids to Interpretation and it's Advantages and Disadvantages

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Statutory Interpretation
Used when some words or provisions of a statute may be ambiguous
Words can have several meanings
Meaning of words can change
Changes in technology and social issues (Royal College of Nursing v DHSS)
Rushed legislation (Dangerous Dog's Act 19991)
Literal Rule:
Gives the word or phrase its natural, ordinary dictionary meaning
"What the natural and ordinary mean of that word is" (Pinner v Everett)
May lead to unexpected results (Whitely v Chappell) despite statutes obvious aim (Fisher v Bell)
Parliamentary sovereignty is respected (St Melons RDC v Newport Corporation)
Wording won't change
Quick decisions
Judges can adapt law to changing times (Royal College of Nursing v DHSS)
Absurd and unjust results (Fisher v Bell) (LNER v Berriman)
"Out of date" (Notham v London Borough of Barnet)
More than 1 definition requires the use of another rule
Assuming "an unattainable perfection of draftmanship" (The Interpretation of Statutes)
Golden Rule:
Judge will look at the literal meaning, but then avoid using unexpected and unusual meaning
Scope for judicial law making as the judge can choose or modify words using this interpretation
Narrow: Where there are multiple literal meanings of a phrase the judge selects the mean which
avoids the most absurdity (Allen)
Broad: Where there is only one literal meaning so the judge modifies the meaning to avoid absurdity
(Adler v George)
Prevents absurd and unfair results (Allen)
More likely to produce a result intended by Parliament
Courts can alter wording
Respects parliamentary sovereignty
No clear definition of `absurd result' makes (LNER v Berriman)
Too much power given to Judge
No real guidelines on when to use it (Zander)
The court is limited in escaping problems, it's a "feeble parachute" (Michael Zander)
Mischief Rule:
Looks at the gap in the law Parliament has felt it necessary to fill
Judges then interpret the statute to fill that gap and to remedy the mischief Parliament had been
aiming to remedy
Scope for judicial law making as judges won't focus on words but decide what Parliament was trying
to remedy

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The interpretation that corrects the weakness or defect is the one to be adopted (Smith v Hughes)
Heydon's Case:
1) What was the common law?
2) What was the mischief common law did not provide a remedy for?
3) What remedy does the Act attempt to provide
4) What is the true reason for the remedy?
Avoids absurd and unjust results (McMonagle v WCC)
Gives effect to Parliaments intention
Promotes flexibility (Smith v Hughes)
Interpretation to match changing times (Royal College of Nursing v DHSS)…read more

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Long and Short Title will contain information on what statute is supposed to do (Royal College
of Nursing v DHSS)
Preamble (statement preceding the main body of the Act) will set out the purpose of the act
Schedules will explain information found in the Act (Hunting Act 2004)
Special definition interpretation section which explains the meaning of key words (Theft Act
Punctuation as "not to take account of punctuation disregards the reality that literate people
punctuate when they right" (Hanlon v The Law Society)…read more

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Ejusdem Generis Rule:
General words follow particular words, the general words would be interpreted to be the same as
particular words listed (Powell v Kempton)
"Cats, dogs and other animals" ­ other animals would be interpreted with cats and dogs to mean
other domestic animals
Scope for the Act to be adapted to suit unforeseen circumstances and changes in society
Not always predictable as Judges decisions can vary (Kensington and Chelsea)
Exclusio Alterius:
The expression of one thing excludes another; if there are no general…read more


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