The ejusdem generis rule
Under this rule, where general words follow particular words, the general words are interpreted to be of the same kind as the particular words. For example, in the phrase ‘dogs, cats and other animals’, the particular words are ‘dogs’ and ‘cats’. The general words are ‘other animals’. Under the ejusdem generis rule the general words would be interpreted in the line with the particular words. Therefore, since dogs and cats are the domestic animals, then the general words of ‘other animals’ would be interpreted to mean other domestic animals. In Powell v Kempton Park Race Course (1899), the defendant company kept an open air enclosure reserved for bookmakers. It was prohibited to keep ‘a house, office or other place’ for betting purposes. The ejusdem generis rule was applied and held the defendant was not liable because his open-air enclosure was not a covered place. The general words of ‘other place’ referred to covered places, since the places specifically mentioned, that is ‘house’ and ‘office’ are covered places.
Expressio unis est exclusion alterius
When translated, this means the expression of one thing implies the exclusion of another. Where particular words are used and these are not followed by general words, the Act implies only to the instances specified (the particular words). For example, in Inhabitants of Sedgley (1837) rates were charged on ‘land, titles and coal mines’. Therefore rates could not be charged on any mine other than coal mines.
Noscitur a sociis
Under this ‘rule’ the meaning of the word is to be gathered from the context in which it is written. For example, the Refreshment Houses Act 1860 stated that all houses, rooms, shops or buildings kept open for ‘entertainment’ during certain hours of the night must be licensed. In Muir v Keay (1975) the defendant kept his cafe open to the public during the night without licence. The court applied the noscitur a sociis rule and held that ‘entertainment’ in...
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