Rules of Statutory Interpretation

Revision of The Literal Rule, Golden Rule, Mischief Rule and Purposive Approach

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The Literal Rule

The Literal Rule

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The Literal Rule

  • Takes the usual dictionary meaning of a word
  • Follows the principle that the best way to follow Parliament's intentions is by using their words
  • Lord Esher stated "If the words of an act are clear, you must follow them"
  • Whitely v Chappell
  • LNER v Berriman
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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Literal Rule

Advantages & Disadvantages of the

Literal Rule

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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Literal Rule

  • Respects Parliamentary sovereignty and the seperation of powers
  • Only those elected, ie Parliament, can make Law
  • Produces absurd results - Whitely v Chappell and Fisher v Bell
  • Produces unjust results - LNER v Berriman
  • Does not always give effect to Parliament's intentions
  • When there is more than one meaning of a word then the Literal Rule will not suffice
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The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

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The Golden Rule

  • An extension of the Literal Rule
  • Made up of two approaches
  • Narrow Approach: Allows a Judge to select the meaning of a word to produce the least absurd result - R v Allen
  • Broad Approach: Allows a Judge to modify a words meaning to avoid an absurd result - Adler V George, Maddox v Storer
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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Golden Rule

Advantages & Disadvantages of the

Golden Rule

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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Golden Rule

  • Prevents absurd and unjust results
  • Better follows Parliament's intentions
  • No clear definition of what an absurd result is
  • Judges have too much power
  • Michael Zander describes this rule as a "feeble parachute" used to escape the problems of the Literal Rule
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The Mischief Rule

The Mischief Rule

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The Mischief Rule

  • Looks at a gap in the law which Parliament tried to fill by passing the Act
  • The word is interpreted to fill that gap in the law
  • Heydon's Case
  • Smith v Hughes
  • Elliot v Grey
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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Mischief Rule

Advantages & Disadvantages of the

Mischief Rule


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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Mischief Rule

  • Prevents absurd and unjust results
  • Promotes flexibility to apply law as intended by Parliament
  • The Law Commission described this rule as a "rather more satisfactory approach" than the Literal and Golden Rule
  • Gives far too much power to unelected Judges
  • It isn't always easy to discover what the mischief was
  • It is considered to be out of date as legislation has modernised since the rule was created
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The Purposive Approach

The Purposive Approach

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The Purposive Approach

  • A modern version of the Mischief Rule
  • Focuses on what Parliament's intention was when passing the new law
  • It's typical of the way EU Law needs to be interpreted, as it's written in broad terms
  • This rule seeks to give effect to the true purpose  of the legislation
  • Pepper v Hart
  • Jones v Tower Boot Co.
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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Purposive Approa

Advantages & Disadvantages of the Purposive Approach

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Advantages & Disadvantages of the Purposive Approa

  • Used in other European countries, so brings the UK into line with the rest of Europe
  • Better way of following Parliament's intentions than the Literal Rule
  • Gives a huge amount of power to Judges for law making
  • Judges can sometimes make decisions based on public policy, which is Parliament's job
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Barbie

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