• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Statutory Interpretation

Extracts from this document...


Statutory Interpretation Mehzeb Rahman Chowdhury The basis of English law is unwritten. It was developed by the judges over the centuries and historically, customs are believed to have been very important in forming the basis of English law. This eventually evolved into what is known as common law today. However, Parliamentary law is sovereign over the all other forms of law in England and Wales. By this we mean that an Act of Parliament can completely supersede any custom, judicial precedent, delegated legislation or previous Act of Parliament. The only exception to this is European Community legislation, which effectively overrides the powers of the domestic legislative bodies. The courts of England can question the validity of delegated legislation using the judicial review procedure, although it must be noted that courts cannot challenge an Act of Parliament. Both statutes and delegated legislation have to be interpreted by the courts, as even the simplest statement may be capable of bearing different meanings. However, even with the assistance of provisions such as the Interpretation Act 1978, the courts still had to develop approaches to interpretation. These include the three main cannons of construction, which tend to be referred to as the three main rules of interpretation. Sir Rupert Cross held that there are was an unified approach to interpretation and that the various rules should not be considered in isolation. Under this, the judge should start by considering the grammatical and ordinary meaning of the words; if this would produce a result which is contrary to the purpose of the Act, the judge may then apply any secondary meaning which the words are ...read more.


to oust the jurisdictions of courts * that a statute does not have retrospective effect Internal aids refers to matters contained within the statute which may help in explaining the words in question. These include long titles, short titles, the preamble of the Act, other relevant sections, especially an interpretation section, headings, punctuations, and schedules. External aids are matters outside the Act, i.e. all the written documents which may be helpful to the judges in interpreting the statute. These include dictionaries, the historical setting of the law, previous statutes, past cases, documents such as international treaties which led to the passing of the Act, textbooks on the relevant issue, Law Reform Reports, and Hansard. In the Black Clawson case the judges in the House of Lords disallowed the use of Hansard for domestic legislation, but allowed it for EC laws. The usage of reports by such bodes as the Law Commission, to discover the mischief that Parliament was trying to correct, were also allowed, but not to find the Parliament's intension. Before 1972, the UK courts refused to follow purposive approach to interpret statutes. Following the UK's entry into the EU, the UK court's had no choice but to interpret the newly binding EC law with respect to the purposive approach, where the purpose of the Act itself is considered, and not the literal word-by-word meaning. Under s.2(4) European Communities Act 1972 the Courts are obliged to give a purposive interpretation to European Community (EC) law, and this has been extended to UK law that was passed to implement EC law. ...read more.


This aspect of the Prevention of Terrorism Act was introduced because the detention without trial of ten foreigners at HM Prison Belmarsh under Part IV of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, was held to be unlawful under human rights legislation, and the ECHR (article 14). Other recent judicial events also indicate that the judiciary is now more robust to defend and safeguard human rights by utilizing s.3 HRA as a radical tool. The House of Lords held in A and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department that Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, under whose powers a number of non-UK nationals were detained in Belmarsh Prison, was incompatible with the Human Rights Act. The case resulted in a unanimous decision of the House of Lords where it was held that evidence obtained by the government through torture is inadmissible in court. The decision overturned a Court of Appeal decision from 2002 where they held that such evidence could be used so long as it was obtained by those who were not agents of the British state. This precipitated the enactment of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 to replace Part 4 of the 2001 Act. However, built-in measures within the Human Rights Act itself have left the door open for judges, and the law makers to disregard certain aspects of human rights, if time warrants such actions. Section 14 of HRA states that under emergency circumstances (such as war or civil unrest) one or more rights under the HRA can be suspended. Therefore, if the Crown can effectively show that there is an emergency situation persisting, then, human rights may be under serious jeopardy. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Sources of Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Sources of Law essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    There are four main ways, for judges to interpret Parliamentary legislation; they can use ...

    4 star(s)

    However this act stated only men "relaying" and "repairing" the railway track, the court took this literally, and therefore the widow could not gain compensation The golden rule is in effect an alteration of the literal rule.

  2. Free essay

    heirachy of civil courts

    They are similar to the courts in that both sides present their arguments in a case and a decision is reached by a third party (in this case The true alternatives to the civil courts are the methods of disputes resolution which have been developed under the heading of ADR - alternative dispute resolution.

  1. "In form, the Human Rights Act (HRA) is compatible with parliamentary sovereignty. In practice, ...

    If one takes the view that orthodox notions of Parliamentary sovereignty hinge upon the presumption that courts will generally adopt a literalist approach to statutory interpretation, section 3 does, in effect, impact on Parliament's sovereignty, but not drastically (Loveland, 2003).

  2. Parliamentary supremacy

    Act 1919 as this was more favourable compared to the Housing Act 1925. The 1919 Act stated in s.7(1): "The provisions of the Act or order by which the land is authorised to be acquired....shall....have effect subject to this Act, and so far as inconsistent with this Act those provisions shall cease to have or shall not have effect....."

  1. Statutory Interpretation

    If the word being examined is capable of more than one meaning the literal rule cannot be applied. A classic is Fisher v Bell (1961) where the prosecution of a shopkeeper under the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act (1954) for offering for sale a prohibited weapon failed on the basis

  2. AS LAW - Judicial Precedent

    the Court of Appeal reverses a decision of the High Court. Following. Where a higher court agrees with the decision of the later court. House of Lords and Judicial Precedent. Until 1898 the House Of Lords had the power to overrule it's own previous decisions.

  1. Discuss whether incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into the domestic legislation ...

    There has been a lot of debate over whether or not to incorporate a Bill of Rights into English law. Bailey et al say that if we were to have a Bill of Rights in whatever shape and form this "would require modifications [to say the least] of the traditional

  2. The rules and methods of statutory interpretation allow judges to decide cases as they ...

    This gives judges more discretion and more legislative power at the expense of parliamentary sovereignty as the mischief of the Act may not be obvious. However, it do have some limitations as it is only applied to fill in the gaps of literal rule and does allow judges to make decisions in changing times, need and social development.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work