A statute or statutory refers to written laws or legislations by a parliament that govern a country or a city, passed by a legislative body (Jean Murray. About.com, 2010). Statutory interpretation is the process of interpreting and applying legislation to benefit a state. This interpretation is necessary as there might be ambiguity (this is when a statute can be interpreted in more than one way.) in the words of the state that require the judge to interpret the law. Judges use different methods in interpreting statutes, these methods are known as the rules of statutory interpretation. These rules of statutory interpretation were created over the years by judges trying to avoid ambiguity in the intentions of parliament. The rules of statutory interpretation can be used only in accordance with the kind of ambiguity or vagueness that exists in a case. In this essay I will explain the methods or rules of statutory interpretation and consider how far judges are willing to go in discovering the true intentions of parliament. In conclusion I will summarize the points given in the essay on how statutes are interpreted and the extent judges will go in discovering the true intention of parliament.
The rules of statutory interpretation are as follows; 1. The literal rule. 2. The golden rule. 3. The mischief rule. 4. The purposive rule and finally 5. The rules of language. After these rules come the external and internal aids to interpretation, material that can guide a judge in the process of interpreting statutes and the presumptions.
The literal rule.
In this rule the judge interprets the parliament’s words in plain everyday language, this means that the law is used according to the way it is stated by the parliament in their literal grammatical sense. In this rule, the court tries to decipher the intention of the parliament as they have expressed it in their choice of words. One of the leading statements of the literal rule was made by Tindal CJ in the Sussex Peerage Case (1844) 11 Cl&Fin 85: “… the only rule for the construction of Acts of Parliament is that they should be construed according to the intent of the Parliament which passed the Act. If the words of the statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense. The words themselves alone do, in such case, best declare the intention of the lawgiver.” A clear example where the literal rule was used was in the case of Whiteley v Chappell (1868) LR 4 QB 147, where the defendant pretended to be someone who had died in order to use that persons vote. The parliament stated that it was an offence to personate any person entitled to vote, but as a dead person cannot vote the defendant was not charged with any crime. This rule encourages precision among draftsmen, respects parliaments words, and also prevents the rewriting of parliaments law as the parliament are the only ones allowed to do so. But on the other hand it can lead to absurdity in judgement and assumes imperfections of parliament.
The golden rule.
This is a slightly modified version of the literal rule. In this rule, rather than take the parliaments words in a literal sense, the judge can decide to read a deeper meaning to the word of parliament. This is done in order to avoid absurdity in the judgment made by the judge. This is also done when the judgment passed doesn’t seem right for the situation and circumstances in which the case was handled, that is it disallows things that are in reality not meant to be. It also allows judges to avoid situations contradictory to what is right and which may end up being offensive and inconsiderate. In Grey v Pearson (1857) 6 HL Cas 61, Lord Wensleydale said: “… the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words is to be adhered to, unless that would lead to some...