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Statutory interpretation

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Introduction

Statutory Interpretation Assignment III (a) Extrinsic aids are tools which a judge can use to help aid themselves when interpreting a decision, they are situated outside of the relevant statute a judge would be referring to when making a decision. Extrinsic aids that a judge may use include dictionaries (from the year the act was passed), other acts, other cases (precedents) and Hansard, to name a few. Sometimes it can be very difficult for a judge to identify the exact meaning of an act, for example when a broad term is used or when changes in the use of language have occurred. This is when extrinsic aids can prove most useful, as they can help a judge to clarify the exact meaning of an act. One example of a judge using an extrinsic aid is found in the case (Cheeseman v DPP, 1990). In this case a judge used a dictionary to identify the meaning of the word "passenger", a word which had changed in meaning since the Town Police Clauses Act, 1847 had been passed. The judge needed to identify what the word "passenger" meant at the time the act was passed, as the defendant should only be convicted if the 1847 meaning of "passenger" applied to him. ...read more.

Middle

However I would argue that Harriet is not 'soliciting... for the purpose of prostitution' which is the case in the source, and so a conviction would be unlikely. ii. Under the literal rule I believe the relevant term that a judge would have to apply its natural and ordinary meaning, would be 'in a street or public place'. Once again as Stella is in her flat, which is neither in a street or public place, I think a conviction would be very unlikely using the literal rule. Using the mischief rule a judge would first have to identify what parliament were trying to remedy by making this statute, in this case I believe the judge would identify this as preventing prostitutes from soliciting members of the public, like in the source. So using the mischief rule I think a conviction would be likely if Stella was soliciting members of the public for the purposes of prostitution, and like Lord Parker argued as the soliciting was aimed at people at in the street, the act should be interpreted to include this activity as this is what parliament was trying to remedy. iii. Under the literal rule, I believe the relevant terms a judge would need to apply their natural and ordinary meanings to, would be 'in a street' and 'for the purpose of prostitution'. ...read more.

Conclusion

When judges use the mischief rule to interpret a statute they will often prevent the need for amendments or complete redrafts of acts being made, which allows parliament greater time to deal with more important issues. The flexibility available when applying the mischief rule also means that this is the only rule that can be used when interpreting the (Human Rights Act, 1998). This act needs to be interpreted differently from other legislation as it is a 'living document', which is constantly updated/ changed. Due to all of these advantages this rule is currently the most widely used in interpreting statutes. A disadvantage of using the mischief rule is that because of the discretion/ flexibility a judge has it can lead to inconsistent decisions being made. The mischief rule is also not as straightforward as the other two rules and so therefore can be more complex in its application, however extrinsic aids can help to combat the complexity involved. For example an acts meaning may be unclear and so it is difficult to identify what 'mischief' parliament were setting out to 'remedy' by producing this act. You can also argue that by using the mischief rule, judges can in effect, create laws which therefore usurps the legislative powers designated to parliament. ?? ?? ?? ?? AS Law29/10/09 ...read more.

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