Statutory Interpretation

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  • Topic: Statutory interpretation, Law, Plain meaning rule
  • Pages : 5 (1968 words )
  • Download(s) : 279
  • Published : November 30, 2010
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Kamal McPherson
Cape Law

Evaluate the rules of interpretation which guides judge’s in the interpretation of statutes or acts of Parliament and the presumption they applied in this process. To gain an explicit and profound competence of statutory interpretation and rules of statutory interpretation, they are few key elements and definition that must be referred to these concepts. Statutory interpretation is a source of law, which means, where laws are taken from to aid in the decision making process by the courts, and this is how the courts apply and interpret the legislations or acts of Parliament within a situation or a court case. To aid in the Courts’ application of the law, rules of statutory interpretation have been created; they are literal rule, golden rule and mischief or purposive rule. These are rules used by the courts to interpret the meaning of an Act. They are necessary because the meanings of an Act can be unclear, among other things, and these “rules” are used to make a judge’s task of reaching a clear understanding of an Act, much easier.

I must point out that interpretation by its very nature is creative and not something you can view with specifics and in one way but with the view of conceptualizing the dynamics that interpretation itself has. The dynamics of legal interpretation are such that an interpreter must go from a general view of the statute to specific evidence and then back to the general view. As such, interpretation can be defined as the art or process of determining the intended meaning of a written document, such as a constitution, statute, contract, deed, or will. The interpretation of written documents is fundamental to the process and Practice of Law. Interpretation takes place whenever the meaning of a legal document must be determined. Lawyers and judges search for meaning using various interpretive approaches and rules of construction. Legal interpretation may be based on a literal reading of a document. For example, when john doe signs a will that names his wife, Jane Doe, as his Personal Representative, his intent to name her the administrator of his estate can be determined solely from the specific language used in the will. There is no need to consider the surrounding facts and circumstances that went into his choice. When the intended meaning of the words in a document is not clearly expressed and some form of guessing is needed to determine the sense in which they have been used, mixed interpretations can happen. In such a case, the words express an individual's intent only when they are correctly comprehended. If John Doe refers only to "my wife" in his will, the court will have to determine who his wife was at the time of his death. How a lawyer or judge ascertains intent when words are unclear is typically governed by rules of statutory interpretation. The statutes or acts of Parliament may part take of the general uncertainty inherent in the language. Some legislation is not easily interpreted nor understands because of the language construct it has been written in. Language itself is ambiguous. Enacted Laws, especially the modern Acts and Rules, are drafted by legal experts and it could be expected that the language used will leave little room for interpretation. But the experience of all those, who have to bear and share the task of application of the law, has been different. It is quite often that we find courts and lawyers busy in unfolding the meaning of ambiguous words, expressions and resolving inconsistencies. The age old process of application of the enacted law has led to formulation of certain rules of interpretation. Words in any language are not scientific symbols having any precise or definite meaning, and language is but an imperfect medium to convey one's thought, much less of a large assembly consisting of persons of various shades of opinion. It is impossible even for the most imaginative legislature to forestall exhaustively situations and...
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