Statutory Interpretation

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Law Assignment Statutory Interpretation Anthony Thompson-North

Statutory interpretation is the process of interpreting and applying 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 most 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. Parliament passed the Interpretation Act 1978 which makes clear that unless contradiction appears "he" includes "she" and Singular includes plural, this aid helps judges with general words. Statutes also contain Interpretation sections about the types of words used in the statute; this will also help judges to better understand the act of parliament. Statutory interpretation is needed because in Acts of Parliament the words used can be ambiguous or have an unclear meaning or have more then one meaning. Statutory Interpretation is also needed because an Act may have been badly drafted for example the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 where there was confusion over the meaning of "type" whether it meant Breed. This was a key point in the Brock v DPP case (1993), another example is when new developments arise, like in the Yorks v Saddington case (2000) the question of which section to put a "Go-Ped" for the purpose of the Road Traffic Act 1988, whether it be Motorised-Scooter or Motor Vehicle. Statutory Interpretation is also needed because over time language can change the meaning of certain words. Statutory Interpretation is very important because the interpretation of a word can lead to the justice or injustice in a case. Extrinsic and Intrinsic Aids are also important parts of Statutory Interpretation; because they allow the judges to retrieve a better understanding of what is meant by the Act. Intrinsic Aids are something that is found within the Act of Parliament examples of Intrinsic Aids are; A Long title which are brief to give a moderate description of an Act, A Short Title which states what the Act is i.e. Disability Discrimination Act, Headings And Schedules before a group section which shows what the different sections are within the group and also Preamble which sets out Parliaments purpose in enacting the statute. Extrinsic Aids are aids that are outside of the act of parliament which are able to help interpret it. Some examples of Extrinsic Aids are; Hansard which is a official Parliamentary Report of all proceedings, Dictionaries which will help to understand/find the meaning of the word in question i.e. English Oxford Dictionary, and International Conventions which is regulations or directives which have been implemented in English legislation. The Literal Rule

The Literal rule is where the courts will give words their literal meaning even if the result from this would be unreasonable or absurd. This idea of the literal approach was stated by Lord Esher in R V Judge of the City of London Court (1982) where he stated: "if the words of an act are clear then you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The court has nothing to do with the question whether the legislature has committed absurdity." Case Examples of when the Literal Rule has been used is in Whiteley V Chappell (1868) the defendant was charged under a section for impersonating "a person entitled to vote." The person who he had been impersonating had died but whose name had still been put onto the voters list. The court found the defendant not guilty because in literal meaning a dead man wasn't "entitled to vote." Another good case example is London & North-Eastern Railway Co. V Berriman (1946) where a railway worker was killed doing maintenance work, oiling points along the railway. His widow tried to claim compensation from the railway company in accordance to the...
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