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Clarke v .Kato, Smith and General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Plc.

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English Legal System Formative Assessment 2003 Clarke v .Kato, Smith and General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Plc Cutter v .Eagle Star Insurance Company House of Lords October 22, 1993 -What are the material facts of the case? -What point of statutory interpretation arose in the case? Which rule of statutory interpretation was applied and why? Word Count (minus quotations): 1,211 The two cases were heard simultaneously by the House of Lords, as both addressed the same underlying issue, the application of the word 'road' in section 145 (3) (a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. In the Eagle Star proceedings, the plaintiff had been injured when sitting in the passenger seat of a car, parked in a parking bay of a multi-story car park, as a result of a cigarette igniting inflammable gas which had leaked from a can of lighter fuel left in the car by the driver. The plaintiff obtained a judgment in the county court for damages for negligence against the driver but, although the driver had been insured, he had forfeited his right to indemnity under the policy. The plaintiff had thereupon commenced proceedings for the recovery of the judgment sum from the insurers as being liable under section 151 of the 1988 Act to 'satisfy any judgment against an assured where the assureds liability arose out of a matter required to be covered by section 145(3)(a)'. ...read more.


Judges are free to choose any one of the following rules of statutory interpretation: Literal rule2 (giving words their exact meaning), Golden rule3 (broad and narrow), and the Mischief rule4. The reality is that it is difficult to predict the interpretative approach that a court will adopt in a particular case. As well as being free to decide which rule to apply, judges themselves also decide whether the chosen rule is the correct one. This simply gives the judges ultimate power, as they control sovereignty via their decisions. Parliament only has the jurisdiction to change the Act, whereas judges are free to choose how to apply a certain Act by means of different rules, dependant on individual circumstances of each case, mindful of course of Parliaments original wishes. As early as 1938, Willis wrote "... a court invokes whichever of the rules produces a result that satisfies its sense of justice in the case before it. Although the literal rule is the one most frequently referred to in express terms, the courts treat all three as valid and refer to them as occasion demands, but, naturally enough, do not assign any reason for choosing one rather than another.5" There may even be cases that a judge picks an interpretative principle that allows an outcome that goes with his own view, even where he otherwise favours a different standpoint. ...read more.


Both were admirably summarised by L J-G Clyde saying that in first instance the purpose of legislation is achieved by the creation on an offence adding "Against the employment of a broad approach to express the purpose of the Act must be put the undesirability of adopting anything beyond a strict construction of provisions which have penal consequences." Secondly if the whole body of statutory regulations and provisions were applicable to car parks as 'roads' and therefore 'public spaces', that would constitute some invasion to the proprietors rights and his land as parts I, III, V, VIII of the Act of 1984 contain a variety of such powers, so effectively undermining the owners exclusive rights to his property. His Lordship also drew on sections 1 and 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 which followed the report of the North Committee of April 1988 in which "....the word 'road' stands alone it bears its ordinary meaning and is not to be extended to public places such as car parks". In view of the decision, his Lordship put the onus to change the legislation on the Parliament, in his summary, if the decision was deemed to contravene their intended meaning, by stating "In relation to the legislation before us, if it is thought that an extension of the application of the Act, or any part of it, is required, that must, in my view, be matter for parliament to achieve8. ...read more.

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