The Three Rules and Purposive Approach

  • Created by: Elli.H
  • Created on: 20-11-18 19:07

Literal Rule

- the starting point for interpreting any legislation

- give words their plain, ordinary meaning; Lord Esher 1892 "if the words of the act are clear then you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity. the court has nothing to do with the question whether the legislature has committed an absurdity.

- Whiteley V Chappell 1868 - dead man voting

- Berriman 1964 - "relaying or repairing" not oiling

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Golden Rule

- modification of the literal rule to avoid an interpretation that is absurd

- Adler v George 1964 - "in the vicinity of" not in the prohibited place

- Re Sigworth 1935 - murdered mother for inheritance 

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Mischief Rule

- from Heydon's case 1584 - it looks back to the gap in the previous law and interprets the Act so as to cover the gap

- Smith v Hughes 1960 - "in a street or public place" but were on a balcony

- Eastbourne Borough Council v Stirling 2000 - "plying for hire in any street" without a license on a forecourt

- Royal College of Nursing v DHSS 1981 - "terminated by a registered medical practitioner"

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Purposive Approach

- goes beyond the mischief rule to find out what Parliament's intention was

- the courts look to see what is the purpose of the law passed by parliament 

- R v Registrar-General, ex parte Smith 1990 - a man tried to obtain his adoption records to get his birth certificate with intent to murder his birth mother

- R (on the application of Quintavalle) v Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority 2003 - the embryo is where fertilisation has happened, not cloning. 

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