• 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...


Q. 'During the last 30 years there has been a shift from the literalist approach to purposive methods of construction. When there is no obvious meaning of a statutory provision the modern emphasis is on a contextual approach designed to identify the purpose of a statute and to give effect to it.' Lord Steyn. Discuss. [25 marks] Ans. When the parliament has enacted a statute questions inevitably arise as to the meanings of certain words or phrases. Despite how carefully the parliament counsel has drafted the original bill, some error may have been overlooked. Also, English language is and imperfect means of communication-some words are designed to cover a number of possibilities and are therefore ambiguous and vague. With the development of new technology and changes in the meaning of words over time old acts of parliament may not apply to present situations. It is thus the responsibility of the court to interpret statutes and other legislations. ...read more.


Berriman's case failed. In 1973 the U.K joined the European Union. European law with its roots firmly in 'civilian' law preferred a more purposive approach i.e. is to find out the purpose of the act or the parliaments intention. It is also the approach adopted by the European Court of Justice. The U.K has to therefore interpret statutes in accordance with the European Union and the purposive approach is for that reason regarded as most appropriate. Lord Denning stated in Bulmer V Bollinger (1974) that an English court interpreting any treaty or other European legislation must follow the same principles of the European Court otherwise there would be differences in interpretations between the member countries and that would never do. Also, Section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 states that legislation must be read in a way which is compatible with the convention's rights 'so far as possible'. It is for these reasons that there has been a shift from the literalist approach to purposive methods of constructions as even local English judges have grown accustomed to the purposive approach and have started applying it to English law. ...read more.


Judges also make use of the rules of language - the ejusdem generis rule (Powell v Kempton Park Racecourse), the noscitur a sociis rule (Muir v Keay) and the expressio unius est exclusio alterius rule (Tempest v Kilner). The ejusdem generis rule states that general words which follow particular words should be limited to meanings similar to those particular words. Thus, in Powell, an outdoor place was held not to fall within the "house, room, office or other place" of the Betting Act 1833. Such rules assist the judge in discovering the intention of Parliament. The attitude of English courts has changed over the 300 years. The choice of which method to be adopted is up to the individual judge. It is quite possible that the judge prefers the literalist approach, which constitutionally maintains the parliaments supremacy enabling it to enact any law it wish. However, there has been a considerable shift towards the purposive approach and today it is generally accepted that the judge's task is to determine and give effect to the parliament's intention. ...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. Parliamentary supremacy

    These two cases both show the effect of implied repeal and support the test that Parliament may not bind its successors. The introduction of the European Convention of Human Rights in to UK Law by the Human Rights Act 1998 has allowed for courts to gain more power when applying the law.

  2. Law a2 notes

    classed as a continuing act Hale And for the purposes of stealing (in order to steal - rather than for another purpose) * The force (or threat of force) must relate to the theft Mens Rea > Robbery requires the mens rea for theft - D is dishonest - D

  1. Statutory Interpretation

    It is no longer necessary for the judges to wring their hands and say- There is nothing we can do about it. Whenever a strict interpretation of a statute gives rise to an absurd and unjust situation, the judges can and should use their good sense to remedy it- by

  2. Statutory Interpretation

    Similarly, in Ex parte Smith, the court held that statute provisions may not be used for the commission of future crimes. The third rule of interpretation came about due to the difficulty of ascertaining which words actually manifest absurdity. The mischief rule dates back to the Heydon's case (1584)

  1. Statutory interpretation

    Under the literal rule courts will give words their natural and ordinary meaning even if the result is not sensible. An advocate of this rule was Lord Reid, who in (Pinner v Everett, 1969) stated that "Judges should look at the 'natural and ordinary' meaning of a word or phrase in its context in the statute".

  2. unit6 end of unit assignment civil litigation

    The property thus charged can be disposed of ultimately in order to settle the judgment debt. * Appointment of a receiver where the debtor will be in receipt of income which cannot be attached conveniently by the usual methods of execution (e.g.

  1. In English

    The Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act (ATCSA) 2001 empowers the Home secretary to detain indefinitely, without charge, a person believed to be a terrorist and a risk to national security. In order to protect the Act from challenge, the Government entered a derogation4 in respect of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

  2. The most conventional meaning of the 'legislative supremacy of Parliament' was adopted by Dicey

    could pronounce a judgement as to the validity of an Act of Parliament'. Lord Wolf 5 has argued that there may be circumstances in which the courts might no longer be required to obey an Act of Parliament. In his opinion; '....I myself would consider there were advantages in making

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