Statutory Interpretation

Oli Booty
Mind Map by Oli Booty, updated more than 1 year ago
Oli Booty
Created by Oli Booty almost 5 years ago


AS Law Mind Map on Statutory Interpretation, created by Oli Booty on 04/03/2015.

Resource summary

Statutory Interpretation
1 Approaches to Statutory Interpretation
1.1 4 Rules
1.1.1 The literal rule Words or phrases in an Act are given their ordinary, natural or dicitonary meaning. The literal rule does not allow a judge to create law. It requires application of law as stated by Parliament. Fisher v Bell (1961) - The defendant displayed flick knives in his shop window. He was charged under The Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959. The act makes it an offence to "sell or offer for sale" an offensive weapon. In contract law it was an invitation to treat so the defendant was not guilty.
1.1.2 The golden rule An extentionto the literal rule but without using the literal interpretation so it wouldn't lead to an absurd result. Narrow approach If the word has more than one literal meaning the judge will pick the definiation that avoids abdurdity. Allen wanted to remarry to a relative but he was charges under s57 Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which states you cannot remarry if the first marrigae id not end. he went through a ceremony but it was void but the court used the rule to mean that the ceremony was enough. Broad approach When a word only has one meaning but it would cause absurdity so the jugde will modify the meaning. In Adler vGeorge (1964) the defendant was charged under the Official Secrets Act 1920, he obstructed an army person "in the vicinity of a prohibited place". The defendanted areguend that he was in the prohiited place not the vicinity, the judge interpreated that "in" was part of the "in the vicinity of".
1.1.3 The mischief rule The court looks at the gap in the law that parliament felt nescessary to fill, it interprets that Act to fill the gap and remedy the mischeif rule. In Heydon's Case (1584) the court had to consider 4 things. 1) What was the common law before the Act. 2) What was the defect or mischief for which the common law did not provide a remedy. 3) What remedy does the Act attempt to provide to cure the defect. 4) What is the true reason for the remedy. Smith v Hughes (1960) under the Street Offences Act 1959 its an offence to solicit "in the street or publice place. The defendant used that the prostitute was on a balcony but the court knew that this Act was passed to stop behavouir like this nevermind where where the soliciting originated from.
1.1.4 The purposive approach This focuses on what Parliament was trying to fill with passing an Act. It is a modern version of the mischief rule, it is minor technicality. instead of looking at words and their meaning a judge will look at the purpose and intention
2 The definiation is the interpretation of Acts of Parliament by judges. 75% of cases in the Supreme Court are concerned with SI.
3 Aids to interpretation
3.1 Intrinsic aids
3.1.1 Found within the Act, the judge may use words or phrase within question.
3.1.2 Long/short title of an act can be guidance. Abortion Act 1967's long title is "An Act to amend and clarify the law relating to termination of pregnancyby registered medical practitioners" .
3.1.3 Older statues have a preamble which is a statement preceding the main body of the Act, setting out the purpose. Newer statues have their purpose at the beginning.
3.1.4 Modern Acts have a definiation section which explains the meaning of key words.
3.1.5 Grammar will decide on the definition of a word
3.2 Extrinsic aids
3.2.1 Found outside the Act refered to by the judge.
3.2.2 Dictionaries can be used to find literal meanings. In Vaughan v Vaughan (1973) to interpret "molest", the defendant was pestering his ex-wife to resume the relation ship by calling her at work and seeing her early in the morning and late at night. He was found guilty because "molest" means annoy, vex or put to inconvenience".
3.2.3 Previous Acts may be referred like it did in Wheatley (1979).
3.2.4 The court may look at Reports of the Law Commission, Royal Commissions and other law reform bodies. A Law Commission report can highlight what is wrong with the old law, and suggest options.
3.2.5 Texts Books can be used.
4 Advantages
4.1 Literal rule - Respects parliamentary sovereignty and leaves law-making to democratically elected Parliament.
4.2 Golden rule - Prevents absurd/unjust results and it's more likely to give effect to parliament's intentions.
4.3 Mischeif rule - Avoids absurd/unjust outcomes, it promotes flexibility and it's the preferred approach of the Law Commission.
4.4 Purposive approach - Consistent with European approachand it gives effect to Parliament's intentions and it's Denning.
5 Disadvantages
5.1 Literal rule - Produces absurd outcomes, it doesn't reflect Parliament's intentions and it assumes perfection from draftsmen.
5.2 Golden rule - Too much power to the judiciary, has uncertainty to an absurd outcome.
5.3 Mischief rule - Too much power to the judiciary, it lets judges update legislation and it's out of date.
5.4 Purposive approach - Too much power to the judiciary and it makes judicial decisions on policy.
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