STATUTORY INTERPRETATION

The definitions under statutory interpretation and the cases.

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  • Created on: 14-03-12 11:50

Literal Rule

Give words their plain, ordinary or literal meaning.

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Literal Rule - Whiteley V Chappell (1868)

D was charged under a section which made it an offence to impersonate any person entitled to vote. D pretended to be a person named on the voters list, who had died. The court held the D was not guilty as a 'dead person' in the literal meaning is not entitled to vote.

Using the literal rule in this case made the law absurd.

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Literal Rule - London & North Eastern Railway Co v

A railway worker was killed whilst doing maintenance work on the tracks. His widow tried to claim compensation because there had not been a look out man provided by the company in accordance to the 'Fatal Accidents Act' which stated a look out should be provided for the purposes for relaying or repairing. Mrs Berrimans claim failed as in the literal meaning he was maintaining the track not repairing it.

Literal Rule can lead to 'Harsh Decisions'.

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Golden Rule

The golden rule is a modification of the literal rule it aims to adapt the meaning of the words in the Parliament Act in order not to reach an absurd decision. The literal approach will be used first however if it fails to make sense the Golden Rule will be applied.

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Golden Rule - two variants

1) NARROW APPROACH - A word is capable of having more than one meaning and the least absurd should be used.

2) WIDE APPROACH- Modifies the outcome to avoid an absurd outcome.

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Narrow Approach - Maddox v Storer

D drove a minibus made to carry over 11 people over 30mph. Under the Road Traffic Act 1960 it is an offence to drive at more than 30mph in a vehicle 'adapted to carry more than 7 passengers'/

'Adapted to' could be taken to mean 'Suitable for'.

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Wide Approach- Adler v George

Adler gained access to a RAF station ( a prohibited place within the meaning of the Official Secrets Act 1920) and was actually within its boundaries. He obstructed a member of her majesty's forces engaged in security duty in relation to the station. You cannot obstruct a member of HM forces engaged in security duty in the vicinity of a prohibited place.

The D was guilty of the offence because "in the vicinity of" should be interpreted to mean on or near the prohibited place.

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Mischief Rule

Looks for the wrong in a statue and tries to correct it. Then interpret in light of this.

 

Developed in Heydons Case (1584):

In applying the mischief rule the court must consider;

1) What was the law before making the act?

2) What was the wrong with the law?

3) What was the remedy Parliament used?

4) What was the reason for the remedy?

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Mischief Rule- Corkery v Carpenter (1950)

D was in charge of a bicycle whilst drunk. It is an offence to be drunk in charge of a carriage.

A bicycle is a carriage the mischief was drunk on a highway being in charge of transport.

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Mischief Rule- Smith v Hughes (1960)

The defendants were prostitutes who had been charged under the Street Offences Act 1959 which made it an offence to solicit in a public place. They were soliciting from provate premises in windows or on balconies so they could be seen by the public.

The court applied the mischief rule holding that the activities of the defendants were within the mischief the act was aimed at even though under a literal interpretation they were in a private place.

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Purposive Approach

Looks at what Parliament said and meant.

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Purposive Approach - Coltman V Bibby Tankers (1987

The judicary decided to include the term a ship in the term "equipment" to achieve the intention of Parliament by making the employers liable for injury or death of employees.

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