Statutory Interpretation

Lucy Sarjeant
Mind Map by Lucy Sarjeant, updated more than 1 year ago More Less
Lucy Sarjeant
Created by Lucy Sarjeant almost 3 years ago


A level Law (Statutory Interpretation) Mind Map on Statutory Interpretation, created by Lucy Sarjeant on 12/15/2016.

Resource summary

Statutory Interpretation
1 What is it?
1.1 Once a law is made it must then be applied by judges in the courtroom. It is not always possible to determine what the law is from a statute. Therefore judges must interpret the statute and try to ascertain its correct meaning.
2 Why we need to interpret?
2.1 Use of a broad term
2.2 A drafting error
2.3 Ambiguity
2.4 New developments
2.5 Change in use of language
3 Interpretation Act 1978
3.1 The Interpretation Act 1978 helps judges to interpret unclear statutes, by providing certain standard definitions of common provisions. E.g the singular includes the plural and 'he' includes 'she'
4 Presumptions
4.1 Presumption against a change in the common law
4.2 Presumption that 'mens rea' is required in criminal law
5 Aids to interpretation
5.1 Instrinsic aids - Inside the act itself
5.1.1 Long/short title The name of the bill may help us understand why it was created
5.1.2 Preamble (if any) Older Bills had a 'blurb' at the beginning giving the background to the act
5.1.3 Definition sections Sometimes the act will have it's own dictionary included.
5.1.4 Notes in the margin Notes will be inserted to indicate relevant case law on that matter, or subsequent acts.
5.2 Extrinsic aids - Outside of the act
5.2.1 Previous Acts/Case law on the same topic The act being interpreted can be compared to other acts or case law on the same topic to see how the law has developed
5.2.2 Historical setting We can look at what was going on in society when the act was made to see what the problem was.
5.2.3 Legal dictionaries Judges can look up the meanings of unclear terms
5.2.4 Hansard The written records of what was said in parliament when an act was being passed.
5.2.5 Law Commission reports The law commission report an act was based upon can help to work out what an act was trying to achieve.
5.2.6 International conventions A judge can examine the agreements an act was based on to see why it was created, permitted since the black clawson case.
6.1 Literal rule
6.1.1 under the literal rule the courts will give the words their 'ordinary and literal meaning' even if the result is not very sensible Whiteley v Chappell (1868) Defendant was charged under section which made it an offence to 'impersonate any person entitled to vote' Defendant pretended to be a person on the voting list that had died. The defendent was found 'Not Guilty' since a dead person is not, in the literal meaning of the words, 'entitled to vote' Fisher v Bell (1961) Defendant was charged with 'offering for sale' a flick knife contray to the restriction of offensive weapons act 1959 after displaying them in the shop window. He was found 'Not Guilty' as under contract law displays are not offers to sell but an invitation to others to make you an offer to buy. LNER v Berrimen (1946) A railway worker was killed while oiling points along a railway. His widow tried to claim compensation. The court held that oiling points was maintaining the railway line, not relaying or repairing it and so Mrs Berriman's claims failed.
6.2 Golden Rule
6.2.1 Narrow golden rule - A word has more than one meaning. Judge can then chose between the two avalible meanings.
6.2.2 Wide golden rule - Word has only one meaning, but that one meaning would lead to an absurd decision. Judge can then adapt interpretation to avoid absuridity
6.2.3 Adler v George Adler gained access to a RAF station and was actually within it's boundries. He obstructed a member of her majesty's forces engaged in security duty in relation to the station 'in the vicinity of a prohibited place'. He argued that as he was actually in the prohibited place he could not be said to be 'in the vicinity' of the prohibited place. The defendant was guilty of the offence because 'in the vicinity of' should be interpreted to mean on or near the prohibited place.
6.2.4 Re Sigsworth A son murdered his mother. She had not made a will. Under the statute setting the law on instestary he was her sole issue and stood to inherit her entire estate. The judge applied for the golden rule holding that an application of the literal rule would lead to a repugnant result of a murderer benefit from his crime. It was ruled that the literal rule should not apply and that the golden rule would be used to prevent the repugnant situation of the son inheriting.
6.2.5 R v Allen The defendent was charged with the offence of big amy under s.57 of the offences against the person act 1861. the statute states 'whosever being married shall marry any other person during the lifetime of the former wife/husband' Under a literal interpretation of this section the offence would be impossible to commit since civil law will not recognise a second marriage, any attempt to marry in such circumstances would not be recognised as a valid marriage. The court applied the golden rule and held that the word 'marry' should be interpretated as 'to go through a marriage ceremony'. The defendants conviction was upheld.
6.3 Mischief rule
6.3.1 Courts look at what gap or 'mischief' the court was intended to fill.
6.3.2 Smith v Hughes Women had been calling men for attention from window balconys or ground floor rooms. They were prostitutes. The phrase 'in the street' was being interpreted. They were found guilty as it is unfair for people to be soliced by common prostitutes.
6.3.3 RCN v DHSS 1st stage of abortion was carried out by a doctor. 2nd stage was carried out by nurse-non-medical practitioner. The phrase being interpreted was 'terminated by registered medical practitioner' It was found that it was lawful for nurses to carry out abortions.
6.3.4 Eastbourne v Stirling Taxi driver with no liciense to take passengers was looking for passengers. The phrase being interpreted was 'Plying for hire in any street' The man was found guilty as although he was on private land, he was unlikely to get customers from the street.
6.4 Purposive approach
6.4.1 The purposive approach looks at what parliament was trying to achieve. Ex parte Smith Charles Smith applied for information to enable him to obtain his birth certificate. Mr Smith made his application in the correct manner and was prepared to see a councillor on a literal view the Registrar-general had to supply him with the information. Problem was Mr Smith had been convicted of two murders and suffered from recurring bouts of psychotic illness. His psychatrist thought he may be hostile towards his natural mother. The judges decided the case needed a purposive approach saying parliament should not promote a serious crime. In view of what may happen they ruled that they did not need to supply any information. Mellons v Newport Two judges disagreed over the purposive apportace. Lord Benning - Loved it. Lord Simmions - Not doing what government want. Jones v Tower Boot Jones, whose mother was white and father was black, worked for Tower Boots co. During his employment he was subjected to racial abuse from his work colleagues. He tried to sue the company under S.32 of the Race Relations Act 1976. Employer responsible as the purpose of the act was to ensure better racial harmony. Quintavalle The House of Lords had to decide whether organisms created by cell nuclear replacement (CNR) came within the definition of 'embryo' in the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act 1990. The Act states that 'embryo means a live human embryo where fertilisation is complete.' CNR was not possible in 1990 when the act was passed and the problem is that fertislation is not used in CNR. Lord Bingham said 'The Court's task, within permissible bounds of interpretation is to give effect to parliaments purpose. Parliament could not have intended to distinguish between embryos produced by or without fertilisation since it was unaware of the latter possibility.
6.5 Rules of Language
6.5.1 The context rule - Noscitur a sociis Words looked at in context by looking at other words in the same section/act. Muir v Keay - entertainment need not be revelry, but by the context if the Act could be just the consumption of food and drink. Inland Revenue Commissioners v Frere (1965) and Bromley v GLC (1982)
6.5.2 The Specific Rule - Expressio unis exclusio alterius A list of words which is not followed by general words, the act applies to only items in that list. Tempet v Kilner (1846) - It was held that 'goods,wares and merchandise' did not included stocks and shares,
6.5.3 General Rule -Ejusdem generis A list of words is followed by general terms. These terms are limited to the type of items in the general list. Powell v Kempton Park Racecourse (1899) - it was held that a clause referring to a 'house,office,room or other place' excluded a ring at a racecourse. In Wood v Commissioner of the police of the metropolis (1986) - it was held that an accidentally broken glass was not ejustdem generis with 'any gun, pistol, hanger, cutlass, bludgeon or other offensive weapon'.
Show full summary Hide full summary


How Parliament Makes Laws
Contract Law
A-Level Law: Theft
AQA AS LAW, Unit 1, Section A, Parliamentary Law Making 1/3
A2 Law: Cases - Defence of Insanity
Jessica 'JessieB
A2 Law: Special Study - Robbery
Jessica 'JessieB
The Criminal Courts
Law Commission 1965
ria rachel
AS Law Jury Case Quiz
Fionnghuala Malone
Criminal Law