1st. What was the common law before the making of the Act.
2nd. What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide. 3rd. What remedy Parliament resolved and appointed to cure the disease. 4th. The true reason of the remedy; and then the function of the judge is to make such construction as shall supress the mischief and advance the remedy. When faced with a piece of legislation, the courts are required to interpret its meaning so that they can apply it to the facts of the case before them. The courts have developed a range of rules of interpretation to assist them.
When the literal rule is applied the words in a statute are given their ordinary and natural meaning, in an effort to respect the will of Parliament. The literal rule was applied in the case of Fisher v Bell (1960) The golden rule
Under the golden rule for statutory interpretation, where the literal rule gives an absurd result, which Parliament could not have intended, the judge can substitute a reasonable meaning in the light of the statute as a whole. The case of Adler v George (1964) is a classic example of the courts applying the golden rule.
Thirdly, there is the Mischief Rule (otherwise known as the rule in Heydon's case). Whilst this is in reality another way of expressing the Purposive Approach, the court takes into account four questions when applying this principle: What was the law before the Act was passed?
What was the mischief or defect for which the law had not provided? What remedy had Parliament resolved and appointed to cure the mischief? What was the reason for the remedy?
The purposive approach
Historically, the preferred approach to statutory interpretation was to look for a statutes’ literal meaning. However, over the last three decades, the courts have accepted that the literal approach can be unsatisfactory. Instead, the judges have been increasingly inﬂuenced by the European approach to statutory interpretation which focuses on giving effect to the purpose of the legislation.
The approach to interpretation , the basic task of the court is to ascertain and give effect to the true meaning of what Parliament has said in the enactment to be construed. But that is not to say that attention.
Statutory interpretation: In fulfilling their task of applying the law to the facts before them, the courts frequently have to interpret (i.e. decide the meaning of) statutes. Whilst it is true to say that the intention of Parliament should prevail, the courts have adopted a number of conventional practices to resolve ambiguities. An overriding requirement is now contained in the Human Rights Act 1998 in that, so far as it is possible to do so, legislation must be read to give effect in a way which is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Whilst Parliament may make laws, judges interpret them. The operation of the court process may therefore be of great significance in the manner in which an Act operates. Acts must be read as a whole. The court will therefore look at: The long title of the Act to ascertain the object of the Act. The court can also consider a number of extrinsic factors. These include dictionaries, reports of committees of the Law Commission, and judicial precedent., the court has been able to refer to reports of debates or proceedings in Parliament. Lastly, Parliament has itself passed an Act, the Interpretation Act 1978, which sets out the meaning of words which shall apply unless a contrary intention is expressed or implied in a particular statute. For example, the Act provides that 'words importing the masculine gender shall include females' and words in the singular shall include the plural and vice versa.
To assist judges in interpreting statutes there exist various aids that they may refer to. Aids to statutory interpretation are divided into internal aids and external aids. These are sometimes referred to as intrinsic aids and...