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What is Statutory Interpretation?
This is the process by which Judges have to figure out and meaning of words and pharses in Acts of Parliament. An Act, or (statute) needs interpretation when there is often a misunderstanding with its meaning.
Problems with Interpretation
- * Words can have more than one meaning (ambiguties)
- *Words can be unclear
- *News situations, new solutions
- * Drafting error - When a bill is amended continously. The original meaning or purpose of the Law may be lost or disguised
The Literal rule
Under this rule, Courts will gives words their plain, ordinary, dictionary meaning. Even though the result may end in illogical decisions
Advantages of Literal rule
- * Respects Parliamentry supremacy, judges don't alter the law
- * Certainly - Looks at plain dictionary meaning
- * No one can claim judge are interpreting law according to their perspective
Disadvantages of Literal Rule
- * Inflexibility - a flexible court system is vital for improving the legal system
- * Uncertainity - words today have different meaning as to what they did in past years
- * Can end in absurdity
Cases involving the use of Literal rule
Fisher V Bell (1961) - After several incidents involving the use of flick knives. Parliament ruled that it was illegal to sell knives for sale. A man's shop was found with knives displayed at the front of his shop. When asked about this, he mentioned he wasn't selling them, but only offering for sale. Therefore following the literal rule, the man was aqquited.
Whitely V Chappel (1946) - It is a illegal offence to impersonate any person 'entitled' to vote.The defendant was caught impersonating the identity of a dead person. A dead person isin't entitled to vote, therefore he was aqquited too.
What is the Golden Rule
If a legislation throws up a word with two possible meaning, the golden rules allows for the most sensible meaning to be taken
Advantages of Golden rule
- *Prevents absurdity in the interpretation of the words
- *Helps the court find the best meaning of the words
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