Literal and Purposive Approach

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 09-01-11 16:51

Need for statutory interpretation:

  • ambigiuty in wording of legislation
  • absurd outcome
  • changes in technology
  • changes in language


There are 3 rules within the literal approach:

  • Literal rule
  • Golden rule
  • Mischief rule

Literal Rule-this is the starting point for the interpretation  of any legislation. The rule uses the plain and ordinary meaning of the words in the act. Lord Esher: "if the words of an act are clear then you must follow them". LNER v Berriman- the husband was oiling the tracks not "repairing or relaying" as was required for the wife to be eligible for compensation.

Strengths- the law is more certain, unelected judges do not make the law  

Weaknesses- assumes every act is perfectly drafted, unfair/absurd meaning

Golden Rule-NARROW: where there are words with more than


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