Describe the golden rule of statutory interpretation.

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The Golden Rule

The golden rule is an extension of the literal rule. It allows the court to look at the literal meaning of a word or phrase, but then avoid using a literal interpretation which would lead to an absurd result.

There are two approaches taken when using the golden rule, these being the narrow approach and the broad approach.

Where there is only one literal meaning of a word or phrase, but to apply it would cause an absurdity, then under the broad approach the court will modify this meaning to avoid the absurdity.

R v Allen – Narrow approach

Where a word or phrase is capable of more than one literal meaning, the narrow application of the golden rule leaves judges to select the literal meaning which avoids an absurdity and which reflects the intention of Parliament.

For example in R v Allen the defendant married for a second time.


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