Statutory Interpretation

What is a statute?
A written law passed by parliament
1 of 71
Need for SI 1
Broard team, can be words to describe several posibilities (Dangerous dogs act 1991- Bull Terrior)
2 of 71
Need for SI 2
Ambiguity, word has two or more meanings
3 of 71
Need for SI 3
New Developments,An act may not cover present day situations - Abortion laws
4 of 71
Need for SI 4
Changes in language, Meanings of worsds can change over time
5 of 71
Need for SI 5
Drafting error, error may nor have been noticed by parliament
6 of 71
Literal Rule
Judge will give words their natural, ordinary or dictionary meaning
7 of 71
Lord Esher said...
if the words are clear you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity
8 of 71
Whitley v Chappell
Offence to impersonate 'any person entitled to vote at an election'. D attempted to vote in the name of a dead person. No offence had been committed
9 of 71
Railway worker was killed when doing maitenance work. Widdower tried to claim compensation. Fatal accident act said look out should be provided. Court took 'relaying'&'repairing' literally so claim failed
10 of 71
Fisher v Bell
D displayed knives in shop window, charged under the restriction of offensive weapons act 1959, offence to 'sell or offer for sale' an offensive weapon. Not guilty as was invitation to treat
11 of 71
R v Harris
D bit off V's nose. Bite was not included in 'stab, cut out wound' as there was no weapon used
12 of 71
Advantage 1 of Literal Rule
Unelected judges are making the law, this upholds the seperation of powers. Meaning its democratic
13 of 71
Advantage 2 of Literal rule
Makes the law more certain as its interpreted exactly as its written. Makes it easier for people to know what the law is and how judges will apply it
14 of 71
Advantage 3 of Literal rule
Allows no-scope for judges to apply their own oppinions and preduces in their opinions (R V Harris)
15 of 71
Disadvantage 1 of Literal rule
Assumes every act is perfectly drafted, not always possible to precisely word an act (Whitley V Chappell)
16 of 71
Disadvantage 2 of Literal rule
Words can have multiple meanings, this causes judges difficulty in deciding which definiton to use
17 of 71
Disadvantage 3 of Literal rule
Following literally can lead to unair and unjust decisions such as in Berriman
18 of 71
Golden Rule
Extention of literal rule, Alows judge to look at meaning of word but avoid literal meaning to avoid absurdity
19 of 71
Narrow approach
Word is capable of more than one meaning. Judge can select meaning which will avoid absurdity
20 of 71
Broad approach
Only one literal meaning of a word, but to apply it would cause absurdity,Judge then modifies this to avoid absurdity
21 of 71
Adler v George (NARROW)
D charged under officials secret act 1920. obstructinga member of the armed forces in the 'vicinity of a prohibited place. D argued he was in the prohibited place not the vicinity of it. Court used Golden rule to avoid absurdity
22 of 71
RE Sigsworth (BROAD)
Son murdered mother who hadn't made will. Estate would have gone to next of kin. Administration of Justice act 1925, there was no ambiguity in the words of the act. Court wasn't prepared to let him benefit from murder. Was guilty
23 of 71
Rv Allen (NARROW)
Allen argued was not possible to legally marry twice. Word 'marry' meant the offence is impossible to commit. Court had to decide weather marry meant to become legally married or to go through a ceremony. used 2nd meaning = guilty OAPA 1863
24 of 71
Advantage 1 of Golden Rule
Respects exact words of parliament providing an escape route for the problems of the literal rule (Fisher V Bell)
25 of 71
Advantage 2 of Golden Rule
Allows judge to makae the most sensible option when choosing meanings of words, leading to reasonable results (R V Allen)
26 of 71
Advantage 3 of Golden Rule
Respects parliametary supremacy as it doesn't give judes complete freedom in their interpretation
27 of 71
Disadvantage 1 of Golden Rule
No clear guidelines of when it can br used (R v Harris)
28 of 71
Disadvantage 2 of Golden Rule
What might be absurd to one judge might not be absurd to another. Means sometimes the case is decided by judge rather than the law (Adler v George)
29 of 71
Disadvantage 3 of Golden Rule
Judges are allowed to modify the law using the broad approach which leads to judical law making. Described by Michael Zander as a 'feeable parachute' (Sigsworth)
30 of 71
Mischief Rule
Concerned with what parliament meant
31 of 71
Defenition comes from Haydens Case
1) What was the old law? 2) What was the mischief in the law? 3) How did parliament intend to remedy the mischief? 4) What is the true reason for the remedy?
32 of 71
Smith v Hughes
Street offences act 1959 = offence to 'solicit in the street or public place'. Prostitutes solicited from balcony = still guilty. Doesn't matter where they solicit from
33 of 71
Eastbourne council v Stirling
Taxi driver was chaarged with 'plying for hire in any street without a licence to do so. Was parked on taxi rank on station forecourt = guilty, was still likely to get customers
34 of 71
Abortion act 1967. Pregnancy should be terminated by a 'registerated practitioner' not a nurse 'interpreting with avencence'
35 of 71
Advantage 1 of Mischeif rule
Premotes purpouse if the law. Allows judges to look at the gap in the law which the act was designed to cover
36 of 71
Advantage 2 of Mischeif rule
Making sure the gap is filled means its more likely to produce a just result avoiding absurdity (Berriman)
37 of 71
Advantage 3 of Mischeif rule
Allows flexibility, useful when dealing with old acts in modern situations where words have new defenitions and new technology
38 of 71
Disadvantage 1 of Mischief rule
Risk of judical law making. Judges are trying to fill the gaps with their own views
39 of 71
Disadvantage 2 of Mischief rule
The mischief must be found before being remedied, this can be difficult as it demands the use of various aids
40 of 71
Disadvantage 3 of Mischief rule
Can be difficult to identify the true gap. (Eastbourne council v Stirling)
41 of 71
Purpousive approach
What parliament meant to achieve & intended. Aims to produce the decisions which put into practice the 'spirit of the law'
42 of 71
R v Quentaville v Secretary of state
Concerned whether organisms created through the process of CNR
43 of 71
R v Registrar-General, ex parte smith
D wanted his birth certificate and had done the application for it correctly, adoption act 1976 required councelling to the person. D had murdered 2 times & was psychiatically ill. Thought he would harm his mother
44 of 71
Advantage 1 of Purpousive Approach
Flexible approach which can enable the courts to delevlop the law in linr with parliaments intention. This helps to produce just results
45 of 71
Advantage 2 of Purpousive Approach
Allows judges to deal with situations unforseen by parliament when creating the act, useful when dealing with new technologies (Quentavelle v secretary of state)
46 of 71
Advantage 3 of Purpousive Approach
Used in EU laws and allows judges to give effect to EU directives, regardless of translation difficulties
47 of 71
Disadvantage 1 of Purpousive Approach
Premotes judical law making, this is undemocratic as unelected judges are making laws opposed to parliament. It infringes uopn the seperation of powers (R V Registrar-general ex parte smith)
48 of 71
Disadvantage 2 of Purpousive Approach
Difficult to discover the true intent of parliament & ignores the fact that parliament can be divided in opinions on law making
49 of 71
Disadvantage 3 of Purpousive Approach
Unclear of when judges will use this approach & how they will view parliaments intention, making it difficult for lawyers to advise their clients
50 of 71
Instrinsic Aids
Things inside the act which may help to make the meaning of a word clearer
51 of 71
Long Title
Gives more information about its purpouse (An act to amend and clarify the law relating to the termination of pregnancy by registrated medical practitioners)
52 of 71
Short Title
Gives a quick insight of what the act is about (abortion act 1967)
53 of 71
Definition Section
Provides defenitions for ambigious words, can help with understanding (Human organ transplants act 1989)
54 of 71
Additions to the main body of the text of the act which may include an interpretation section (Hunting act 2004)
55 of 71
Other sections
May include objectives, can assist on identifying the purpouse of the law (Climate change and sustainable energy act 2006
56 of 71
Extrinsic aids
Things outside the act which can help a court decide the meaning of a word
57 of 71
Clarify the meaning of a word (Vaughn v Vaughn, meaning of the word molest meant he was guilty of offence)
58 of 71
Edited record of what was said in parliament, useful to see why parliament introduced a law (Pepper v Hart, over rules decision in Davis V Johnson which outlined the use of hansard by judges, could be used to clarify the meaning of a word)
59 of 71
Previous acts of parliament
Judge may reffer to old acts or similar acts to assist an interpretation (Wheatley, judge imported the defenition of explosives using a previous act which used 'pyrotechnics')
60 of 71
International Conventions Regulations and Directives
Word may be based on EU law, English courts interpret words and reffer to EU regulations & Directives (Treaty of Rome, Say all member states are required to 'take all appropriate measures to ensure fulfulment of obligations)
61 of 71
Interpretaion act 1978
Clarifies the meaning of general terms such as gender, gender roles can be swapped and mean the same thing
62 of 71
Ejusdem generis rule
Where there is a list of specfic words followed by general words then the general words are limited to the same kind of items as the words (beer, wine and other drinks = beer & wine means alcoholic drinks)
63 of 71
Hobbs v GC Robertson LTD
Workman injured eye when brickwork splintered. He claimed compensation under the constructions regulations 1961 which made it a duty for goggles to be given when working. Brick didn't come into the words 'carving stone,concrete,**** or other material
64 of 71
Allen v Emmerson
Must be atleast two specific words in a list for the rule to operate. Court had to interpret 'theatres and other places of amusement' and decide if it applied to a fun fair = did come under the general term
65 of 71
Expressio Unis exclusio alterius
Expression of one thing implies to another
66 of 71
Inhabitants V Sedgley
Rates were charged on 'land, titles and coal mines' - the lackof specific words meant the only type of mine the rates applied to were coal mines
67 of 71
R V Harris
Biting doesn't mean that it comes within the act of cutting, stabbing or wounding as it meant an instrument had to be used
68 of 71
Noscitur a sociis
A word will be defined by the other words arround it, from the context it's written in
69 of 71
Muir V Keay
D ran cafe which was found to be open during the night which supplied cigars, coffee and ginger beer but needed a licence to do this so broke the law. Didn't come under 'entertainment'
70 of 71
Inland Revenue Comissioners V Frere
The first use of the word interest on its own could have meant any interest paid. Because of the words 'other annual interest', the section the court decided that 'interest' meant annual interest
71 of 71

Other cards in this set

Card 2


Need for SI 1


Broard team, can be words to describe several posibilities (Dangerous dogs act 1991- Bull Terrior)

Card 3


Need for SI 2


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Need for SI 3


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Need for SI 4


Preview of the front of card 5
View more cards


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Statutory Interpretation resources »