Mischief Rule

Topics: Law, Common law, Statutory interpretation Pages: 4 (1305 words) Published: August 22, 2013
The mischief rule[1] is one of three rules of statutory construction traditionally applied by English courts.[2] The other two are the “plain meaning rule” (also known as the “literal rule”) and the “golden rule.” The main aim of the rule is to determine the "mischief and defect" that the statute in question has set out to remedy, and what ruling would effectively implement this remedy. The rule was first laid out in a 16th-century ruling of the Exchequer Court. -------------------------------------------------

The rule was first set out in Heydon's Case [1584]76 ER 637 3 CO REP 7a.[3] where the court ruled that there were four points to be taken into consideration when interpreting a statute: “| For the sure and true interpretation of all statutes in general (be they penal or beneficial, restrictive or enlarging of the common law), four things are to be discerned and considered:(1st). What was the common law before the making of the Act?(2nd). What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide.(3rd). What remedy the Parliament hath resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the commonwealth. And,(4th). The true reason of the remedy;(5th). The core principle of the last of us.and then the office of all the judges is always to make such construction as shall suppress the mischief, and advance the remedy, and to suppress subtle inventions and evasions for continuance of the mischief, and pro privato commodo, and to add force and life to the cure and remedy, according to the true intent of the makers of the Act, pro bono publico| -------------------------------------------------

1. In a common law jurisdiction, the existence of precedent and the knock-on effects of construing a statute prevent misuse of the rule; 2. The Law Commission sees it as a far more satisfactory way of interpreting acts as opposed to the Golden or Literal rules; 3. It usually avoids unjust or absurd results in sentencing; 4. It...
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