Statutory Interpretation

Questions on Statutory Interpretation 

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  • Created on: 29-12-11 12:42

What is Statutory Interpretation?

Statutory Interpretation is where courts have to deicde what Parliament meant when they were making a particular statute due to the statute being hard to comprehend

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Give 5 reasons for the need of Statutory Interpret

1) A Broad term (prompt case) - "The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991" with the term "type"

2) Abiguity - Where a word has tow or mote meanings and it may not be clear which meaning should be used

3) A Drafting Error - This could have been made by the Parliamentry council 

4) New technology (promt case) - "The Royal College of Nursing v DHSS 1981" with the "Abortion Act 1967"

5) Changes in the use of language (promt case) - The meaning of a word can change ie. "Cheesemen v DDP 1990"

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Before interpreting an Act the court must make 4 p

1) That the common law applies (prompt case) - "Leach v R 1912"

2) That mens rea is required in criminal circumstances (prompt case) - "Sweet v Parsley 1970" Landlord + Canibis Growing case

3) That the Crown Court is not bound by any statute

4) That Legislation does not apply retrospectively

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Name each rule of language and define them?

Literal Rule - This rule is where the words of an Act are taken literally without consideration of the Acts' aims

Golden Rule - This is an extension of the literal rule however it aims to stop absurd outcomes through the use of the wider or narrower approach (define narrow and wider approach)

Narrow approach - This is where the word in dispute has more than one meaning and the court can chose which meaning to follow

Wider approach - This is where the word has one clear meaning but would lead to an absurd outcome, so the court can change the meaning of the word to make the outcome justified

Mischeif Rule - This was created in Haydons Case 1584 and seeks to find the intention of Parliament rather than follow the words of the act explicitly 

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Name the 3 Literal Rule Cases? And what did Lord E

1) Cheeseman v DDP (1991) - "Passenger" under dispute

2) Whitely v Chappel (1868) - "Entitlement to vote" under dispute

3) Berriman v British Railways Board (1945) - "Maintaining" under dispute

Lord Esher
He said - If the words in the act are clear then the court must follow those words even if the case leads to an absurd outcome as its not at the courts discretion to question the absurdity of an Act.

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Give the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Liter

 - The rule follows the words of Parliament and so its democratic
 - It makes the law more ceartain
 - It is easier to interpet

 -  An act doesn't provide for every constinguencey which can lead to an absurd         outcome
 -  Words may have more than one meaning which can make the law unclear

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Name the two cases for the Golden Rule and which a

1) R v Allen 1872 - "Marry" in dispute and it was the use of the narrow application

2) Re: Sigsworth 1935 - "Issue" in dispute and use of the wide application

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Give the Advantages and Disadvantges of the Golden

 - It repects the exact words of Parliament
 - It allows the judge to choose the most sensible meaning
 - It can provide sensible outcomes where the literal rule wouldn't have

 - It is only used on rare occasions
 - Not possible to predict when it will be used 

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What are the 4 points that need to be considered (

1) What was the common law before the making of the Act

2) What loopholes were not provided for

3) How will the gaps be filled

4) Whats the reason for filling the gap 

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Name the two cases for the Mischeif Rule?

1) Smith v Hughes (1960) - Interpretation of the "Street offences Act 1959" and the word in dispute was "the street"

2) Royal College of Nursing v DHSS (1981) - The Abortion Act 1967 was under dispute due to technological advances which enables nurses to carry out abortions as well as doctors

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Give the Advanatges and Disadvantages of the Misch

 - Promotes the purpose of the law as it allows judges to look back at the gap in the    law which the Act was designed to cover
 - The Commision in 1969 recommened that it should be the only rule to be used in     S.I.

 - Filling the gaps may be done in a bias non-democracti way through the judges        opinion
 - May lead to unceartainity in the law
 - Can't be used for more general consideration of the law 

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What is the purposive approach, name and describe

It is the modern version of the mischief rule, where the courts look for what they think Parliament intended. 

Case: Mangor and St Mellons v Newport Corporation 1950 :

Lord Denning Said:
The mischeif/purposive approach should be used instead of the literal rule

Houses of Parliament said:
Judges pretend to interpret law and that they actually make the law which is undemocratic

Lord Scarman Said:
The courts shouldn't have power to change the law and that we are not bound by Parliaments intentions, but are bound by their enactments

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Give the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Purpo

 - Leads to justice in individual cases
 - It allows the law to cover more situations than applying it literally
 - Useful for techonology that was unkown when the act was put into place

 - Makes the law less ceartain
 - Undemocratic
 - Difficult to discover the intention of Parliament itself
 - Difficult for lawyers to advise their clients on the law 

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Name the cases for the Purposive approach and why

1) R v Registrar General - ex parte Smith (1990) - Disputing the Adoption Act 1976 and in order to stop a potentially dangerous outcome they purposive approach had to be used

2) R v Quintivelle v Secretary of State (2003) - The purposive approach had to be used to cover future technological advances in Embryology under the Embryology Act 1990

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Define each rule of Language?

Edjusdem Generis rule - This rule says that the gernal word is defined by all the other words in the list surrounding it

Expressio Unius Exclusio Alterius rule - This says that the Act only applies to all those mentioned in the list as there is no general word

Noscitur a' Sociis - This rule looks at the word in context within the act itself e.g. "cats, kittens and food" would probably refer to cat food

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Cases of Edjusdem Generis?

1) Powell v Kempton Park Racecourse (1899) - This is where the words "house, office, room or other place for betting " were disputed and it was decided that it meant indoor place

2) Allen v Emmerson (1944) - Court had to interpret the phrase "Theatres and other places of ammusement" and it was deicded that a funfair did come under this definition

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Case for Expressio Unius Exclusi Alterius?

1) Tempest v Kilner - The court had to consider the Frauds act (1677) which required a contract for "goods, wares and merchandise of more than £10" and it was decided that stocks and shares did not come under this

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Noscitur a' Sociis cases?

1) Inland Revenue Commision  v Frere (1965) The rules for "interest, annuities or other anual interest" were disputed. Because of the other words meaning anual it was deicded that anual interest was what was meant

2) Bromley London Borough Council v Greater London Council (1982) - The word "Economic" was decided to mean running a business and therefore it would be illegal to run the train compnay at a loss.  

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Give examples of Intrinsic, Extrinsic and now lega

- Long Title
- Short Title
- Preamble
- Headings
- Schedules
- Marginal Notes

- Previous Acts of Parliament on the same topic
- Dictionaries of the time
- Historical Setting
- Earlier case law

Now Legal Extrinsic:
- Hansard
- Law Refrom Reports
- International Conventions e.g. EU treaties etc.  

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Using three cases, recall the use of Hansard?

Davis v Johnson (1979)
Involved the interpretation of the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 176

Lord Denning - Hansard is needed by judjes because sometimes it is the only source will have the answer as to Parliaments intentions

Lord Scarman - Hansard is unreliable when it comes to discovering Parliaments intentions as the answers found may be biased. 

Pepper v Hart (1993)
In this case the majority ruled that Hansard could be used to discover Parliaments intentions.

Lord Browne-Wilkinson - Hansard should only be used when the words of an Act are abigiuous or obscure that they might lead to an absurd outcome. 

Three Rivers District Council v Bank of England (1996)
The QBD pointed out that Hansard can be used alongside an European or International convention 

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In which case were Law Reform Reports deemed legal

Black Clawson Case (1975)

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In which case were international conventions allow

Fothergill v Monarch Airlines (1980)

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In which two ways have English courts been affecte

1) Law that has been passed due to having to conform with the Eurpoean Law has to be interpreted with the Purposive Approach

2) As judges have become used to the purposive approach they have started to use it to interpet English Law 

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