June 2004 – Q2
A) Under the Golden Rule, “it is generally considered to be an extension of the literal rule. In its general expression it is applied in circumstances where the application of the literal rule is likely to result in, what appears to the court, to be an obviously absurd result” (Source B). For example, in R v. Allen (1872), the word ‘marry’ was interpreted as meaning ‘to go through a ceremony of marriage’, because using it literal meaning would produce the absurd result that the offence of bigamy would be impossible to commit.
The Golden Rule was also applied in Re Sigsworth (1935). A son murdered his mother and she had not made a will. Under the statute setting the law on intestacy, he was her sole issue and stood to inherit her whole estate. The court applied the Golden Rule holding that an application of the Literal Rule would lead to a repugnant result. He was thus entitled to nothing.
The broader application of the golden rule can be illustrated by the case of Adler v George 1964. The defendant was charged with obstructing a guard in the execution of his duty after being challenged by a sentry at a MOD establishment. The wording of the relevant provision included the phrase ‘in the vicinity of’. The defendant argued that this meant that he could not be charged and convicted because he was actually already inside the establishment whereas ‘in the vicinity’ meant outside or in the proximity or area. The court decided that this would lead to an absurd result and interpreted the words so as to include the situation which had arisen where the individual was already on the premises.
B) i) Using the Literal Rule, Henry would not be guilty as the Act would make bigamy a crime impossible to commit. This would produce and absurd result. The court would apply the Golden Rule, as shown in the source, and find Henry guilty, regardless of religious beliefs.
ii) Using the Literal Rule, Jane would not be found guilty as bigamy would...
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