A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutory interpretation is the process by which courts interpret and apply legislation. Some amount of interpretation is always necessary when a case involves a statute. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and straightforward meaning. But in many cases, there is some ambiguity or vagueness in the words of the statute that must be resolved by the judge. To find the meanings of statutes, judges use various tools and methods of statutory interpretation, including rules of interpretation. The five (5) main rules of statutory interpretation are: 1. The Context Rule
When the context rule is used to interpret an act it is understood with reference to the words which are in immediate connection to it. This can be expressed by the Latin maximum “noscitur a sociis” which means “a word may be known by the company it keeps” when translated. The context rule is a more accurate way of interpreting a statute because in each rule we tend to find out the meaning of a statute by learning about the context in which it was written. When a word stand alone it may have one specific definition however when one word is used in more than one context it may have a variety of different meanings. When using the context rule one should consult the definition section of the statute and the Interpretation Act. 2. Interpretation in the Light of Policy ( The Fringe Meaning) Courts often announce that that they are trying to discover the intention of the legislature when interpreting statutes. If the courts find it difficult to decide whether a particular situation falls within a statute or not, the situation was probably unforeseen by the legislature. In this case the members of parliament would be just as confused as the judges. When statutes are constructed the maker of the document may not mean to...
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