Literal Vs Purposeful Approach
Literal approach - Restrictive view, judge must look at the words of the legislation to understand it's meaning.
Purposive approach - Wider approach, judges may look at the purpose of the legislation to give it's intended effect.
over the years 3 different rules of interpretation have been established;
- Literal rule
- Golden rule
- Mischief rule
The Literal Rule
The legislation should be taken in it's "ordinary, plain and natural meaning."
ADVANTAGES - respects the sovereignty of Parliament. Makes the law more certain -> people know how judges will interpret it. Judges can not depart from the law.
DISADVANTAGES - does not take account of the reality of the use of language. Parliamentary draftsmen can make mistakes. May lead to injustice (e.g. Berriman)
Case examples of the literal rule
Case 1 - Whiteley v Chappell 1868; defendant was charged with "impersonating a person entitled to vote" the person in question, was dead, and as they were dead they literally could not vote, so the defendant was acquitted.
Case 2 - LNE Railway Co. v Berriman 1946; the widow of a railway worker tried to sue the railway company for compensation for her husbands death as a result of their failure to supply a look-out man in accordance with their statutory duty when a worker is 'repairing or relaying' a track. The House of Lords dismissed the case because Mr.Berriman was maintaining the line when he was killed, and not "repairing or relaying" as it is state in the act.