9 November, 2007

Statutory Interpretation

Filed under: additional reading,AS-Level,domestic law — legaleasy @ 8:07 pm

W/E 9th November 2007

This week we looked at how and why judges interpret legislation.  There are three main rules – literal, golden and mischief.

The literal rule is where judges apply the plain and literal meaning of the word even if the result is not sensible or fair – see R v Judge of the City of London Court (1892); Whiteley v Chappell (1868) and London & North Eastern Railway Co v Berriman (1946).

The golden rule is a modification or extension of the literal rule. It can be applied in either a narrow sense or a wider sense. When applied narrowly, the court will look at and apply a different meaning of a word in an Act in order to avoid an absurd situation arising – see Jones v DPP (1962), and R v Allen (1872). When applied in the wider sense the court will read in words into an Act as necessary to avoid a repugnant situation arising – see Re Sigsworth (1935).  

The mischief rule has been around since Heydon’s Case (1584).  It gives judges wider discretion than the other two rules as it looks at the law and at the mischief the Act is trying to remedy – see Smith v Hughes (1960) and Royal College of Nursing v DHSS (1981).

Judges broadly either take the Literal Approach or the Purposive Approach. Sir Rupert Cross wrote there was a unified approach called the Integrated Approach but this is based on the Literal Approach.

We also looked at the advantages and disadvantages of the three rules and the influence Europe has had on statutory interpretation.

Additional Reading

Brock v DPP (1993)

Royal College of Nursing v DHSS (1981)

Cheeseman v DPP (1990)

Bulmer Ltd v Bollinger SA (1974)

R v Judge of the City of London Court (1892)

Whiteley v Chappell (1868)

London & North Eastern Railway Co Ltd v Berriman (1946)

Jones v DPP (1962)

R v Allen (1872)

Re Sigsworth (1935)

Heydon’s Case (1584)

Smith v Hughes (1960)

Eastbourne Borough Council v Stirling (2000)

Magor ans St Mellons v Newport Corporation (1950)


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