Statutory Interpretation 1.5

SI 1.5

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  • Created by: Jake
  • Created on: 27-05-12 21:24

Name the methods of interpretation...

  • Literal Rule
  • Golden Rule 
  • Mischief Rule
  • Purposive Approach
  • Presumptions
  • Rules of Language
  • Internal Aids
  • External Aids
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What is statutory interpretation?

Relates to how judges interpret the words set down by Parliament in statutes.

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The interpretation Act 1978

Provides guidance on genereal words used

E.g. if singular is used then it also includes the plural, if he is used then it also includes she, etc...

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The Literal Rule

Gives words in the statute their ordinary meaning and natural meaning as this is the best way to interpret the will of Parliament even though it may lead to obsurdity.

Taking the words literally.

Advantage - Respects Parliamentary sovereignty
Disadadvantage - Can create obsurdity

Whitley v Chappell - impersonated a dead man at an election

Berriman case (obsurdity) - where the widow could not claim for her husband's death as he was doing routine maintinance rather than 'relaying the tracks' as the statue stated and required.  

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The Golden Rule

Slight tweaking of the words 

Judge can substitute a reasonable meaning in the light of the statue as a whole to eliminate obsurdity

Usually used when the words are ambiguous
Judge may slightly alter the words

Maddox v Storer - Minibus 'adapted' was changed to 'made for' 

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The Mischief Rule

Based on Heydon's case

3 questions must be asked in the Mischief rule:

  • What was the problem before the Act was passed
  • What problem was it trying to remedy
  • What remedy was Parliament trying to provide 

Smith v Hughes - Prostitute tapping on the window breached the Street Offences Act as people couldnt walk down the street without being solicited  

Advantages - Avoids absurdity and promotes flexibility 
Disadvantage - Out of date with modern statutes 

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Purposive Approach

Used to interpret EU and Human Rights law 

The purposive Approach is used to interpret the Human Rights Act 1998 

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Judges can assume certain aspects with all statues
To assume something happens when you dont have the evidance  

Eg. Statutes do not affect the Monarch
Eg. Laws which create crimes should be interpreted in favor of the defendant where there is ambiguity 

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Internal and External Aids

Internal Aids:
Anything inside the Act itself
Long title, short title, preamble, margin notes, schedules, headings ect. ect....

External Aids:
Ohter things outside of the Act that might help with the interpretation
Dictionaries, reports, Hansard (What is said in Parliament) 

Since Wilson case 2003 can only be used to discover the meaning of the words and not the reason for the Act 

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