G152 Statutory Interpretation Flashcards

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  • Created by: bananaaar
  • Created on: 13-04-14 12:41

Why do we need statutory Interpretation?

  • Broad terms - In the case of Brock v DPP the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 the word 'type' was used instead of breed so that it covered dogs with characteristics of Pitbull Terriers. 
  • New Developments - where the meaning of the words may not stretch to cover the changes of new developments - Royal College of Nursing case there was debate as to whether nurses were medical registered practitionersdue to the advancement in medical technology that was not available when the Abortion Act 1967 was written. 
  • Changes in language - in the case of cheeseman the meaning of the word 'passenger' had changed since the act was made. 
  • Ambiguity - the word having more than one meaning, e.g. R v Allen case 'marry' was ambiguous.
  • Drafting error - Parliamentary draftsmen could have made an error, especially if the Bill was ammended several times during legislation, e.g. Fisher v Bell 1960 it was made clear that the draftsmen should have used the words 'offering of exposing for sale' rather than 'offer for sale'. Parliament then had to ammend act shortly after the case. 
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Advantages/disadvantages of Literal Rule?


  • Respects Parliamentary sovereignty. 
  • Maintains seperation of powers. 
  • Encourages consistency. 
  • Democratic (unelected judges aren't making law)


  • Harsh results - Berriman
  • Absurd results - Cheeseman 
  • Defeats Parliament's intention. 
  • Assumes act is perfectly drafted. 
  • DOesn't contextualise the law. 
  • Michael Zander - 'mechanical and divorced from realities of life.' 
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Advantages/disadvantages of Golden Rule?


  • Avoids problems of literal rule. 
  • Acts as a safety net. 
  • Provides fairness/justice. 
  • Respects Parliamentary sovereignty as it doesn't give judges complete freedom. 


  • No clear objective means to determine what a repugnant decision is. 
  • Undemocratic - unelected judges making law. 
  • May lead to uncertainty in the law. 
  • Is of limited use (only where there is ambiguity or absurdity in the outcome)
  • Michael Zander - 'an unpredicatable safety net'. 
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Advantages/disadvantages of Mischief Rule?


  • Greater flexibility as the judges can use extrinsic aids.
  • Helps achieve Parliament's intention by filling in the gaps. 
  • Removes absurdity and injustice, e.g. Cheeseman would be prosecuted. 


  • Relies heavily on extrinsic aids
  • Doesn't uphold Parliamentary supremacy as unelected judges are making law. 
  • Doesn't support seperation of powers. 
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Advantages/disadvantages of Purposive Approach?


  • Greater flexibility 
  • Fairer than literal rule 
  • Takes into acocunt changes in society - RCN 
  • Gives effect to Parliament's true intentions. 


  • Relies heavily on extrinsic aids (costly and expensive and time consuming for all involved.)
  • Undemocratic 
  • Doesn't support seperation of powers. 
  • Goes aginst Parliamnetary Sovereignty 
  • Limited as the approach can only be used if the judge actually finds parliament's intention. 
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Intrinsic Aids?

Short/Long Title. 

  • Older acts give longer titles 
  • The more detailed the statute title, the more use it is to judges. 
  • It gives an indication of the purpose of the act. E.g: Long title of the Law of Property Act 1925, ('an act to consolidate the law on conveyance of property in England and wales) 


  • Helpful but in modern acts they are less. 
  • Useful indication of Parliament's purpose or mischief in enacting the statute. It may set out reasons for passing the act. 
  • Example: Theft Act 1968 - 'it is an act to modernise the law of theft. ' 

Chapter Headings/Sub Headings

  • Sets out acts clearly - headings before a group of sections may give clues to the content. 

Definition sections 

  • In Theft Act 1968, s.2-6 gives explanations on the definitions including theft in s.1. 
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Extrinsic Aids?

Hansard - The official report of what was said in Parliament when the act was debated. In Davis v Johnson Lord Denning admitted to rading Hansard on the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976. Ban was relaxed in Pepper v Hart 1993. 

For hansard to apply all 3 rules must apply:

  • Ambiguous word in the act.
  • 1 or more statements from the Bill promoter. 
  • The statements must be clear. 

Law Reform Reports - Reports from law reform bodies (i.e. Law Commission) In the case of Black Clawson 1975 the law reform reports ban was relaxed as it was decided that the report should be looked at to discover the mischief/gap the act was trying to solve. 

EU Law - Fothergill v Monarch Airlines 1980 - HOL accepted any explanatory notes published with an international covention (EU Law) as other countries use it so why shouldn't the UK. 

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