Law Module 1

Revision cards for Statutory Interpretation in Module 1 of AS Law.

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  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 18-05-11 12:47




Literal Rule

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Definition: The clear, unambiguous, grammatical, dictionary deinition of a word or phrase in an Act.

Case: Berrimen and Whitley v Chappell

Act: Fatal Accidents Act

Advantages: Does not allow judges to create law, respects parliamentry sovereignty.

Disadvantages: Produces absurd/unjust outcomes, does not always give effect to Parliament's intentions, sometimes there is more than one dictionary definition.

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Golden Rule

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Definition: Extension of the literal rule, but avoids the absurd/unjust outomes from the use of the literal rule.

Case: Re Sigsworth

Act: Administration of Estates Act

Advantages: Prevents absurdities from the use of the literal rule.

Disadvantages: Too much power is given to the judges as they have to decide when and how to use this rule.

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Mischief Rule

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Definition: Court looks at the gap in the law which Parliament had felt necessary to fill when passing the Act.

Case: Smith v Hughes

Act: Street Offences Act.

Advantages: Avoids absurd outcomes, promotes flexibility, follows Parliaments intentions.

Disadvantages: Too much power is given to the judges, not always easy to identify the mishief.

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Purposive Approach

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Definition: Extension of the mischief rule but seen as much more controversial.

Case: Cutler v Eagle Star Insurance.

Act: Road Traffic Act.

Advantages: Gives effect to Parliament's intentions, consistant with European approach.

Disadvantages: Too much power to the judges.

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Intrinsic Aids

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 Defintion: Aids found within the Act. The judge may use other parts of the Act to understand the meaning of the word or phrase in question.

Examples: Long/Short title of an Act, index, page numbers, contents, glossary, marginary notes.

Advantages: Long titles may remind the court of what the Act is trying to achieve.

Disadvantages: Prior to 1850, punctuation was not used in Acts of Parlianment, therefore it is difficult to know when punctuation should be used to help.

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Extrinsic Aids

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 Definition: Aids found outside the Act that may be referred to by the Judge.

Examples: Dictionaries, thesaurus, previous Acts, Hansard, law reports.

Advantages: Explanatory notes are generally more helpful as the language used is much more accessible than that in Acts of Parliament.

Disadvantages: Dictionaries are not always useful when using another approach that is more concerned with giving effect to Parliament's intention.

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Ejusdem Generis Rule

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 Defintion: The general words are interpreted to be of the same kind as the particular words.

Example: In the phrase "Dogs, cats and other animals", the particular words are "dogs" and "cats". The general words are "other animals" which would be interpreted to mean other domestic animals.

Advantages: Allows the Act to adapt to changes in society.

Disadvantages: Too much power is given to the judges.

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Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius

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Definition: The expression of one thing implies the exclusion of another.

Example: In 'Inhabitants of Sedgley (1837)' rates were charged on "land, titles and coal mines". Therefore rates could not be charged on any mine other than coal mines.

Advantages: Makes the outcome of cases more predictable. The judges apply the law as stated by Parliament.

Diadvantages: Rigidity can result to unfair and unjust outomes.

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Noscitur A Sociss

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 Definition: The meaning of a word is to be gathered from the context it is written in.

Example: The 'Refreshment Houses Act 1860' stated that all houses, rooms, shops or buildings kept open for 'entertainment' during certain hours of the night must be licensed. In 'Muir v Keay' the defendant kept his cafe open to the public during the night without a license. The court applied the rule and held 'entertainment' in the context of the Act did not mean only musical and theatrical entertainment, but meant other forms of enjoyment, such as drinking coffee late at night. Therefore the defendant had commited an offence under the Act.

Advantages: There is sope for he Act to be adapted to suit unforseen circumstances.

Disadvantages: Too much power for the judges. Unpredictable outcomes.

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