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The rules and methods of statutory interpretation allow judges to decide cases as they wish. Discuss the accuracy of this statement.

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´╗┐Statutory interpretation Judges have discretion to interpret laws. There are several rules which judges can use. Firstly, the literal rule is whereby the plain ordinary and natural meaning of words in a statute is taken. It is said to be the best way to uphold Parliament?s intention. Judges are given limited discretion to decide on laws as they have to follow the meaning of the words. However, it may lead to absurdity. In the case of Whiteley v Chappell, it was an offence to impersonate any person entitled to vote to prevent electoral malpractice. However, the defendant impersonated a dead person who under the literal rule was not entitled to vote. He was acquitted. However, this shows that literal rule can result in repugnant situations as he was clearly guilty for impersonation. Also in the case of Fisher v Bell, the defendant had displayed flick knives in his shop window. Under the Offensive Weapons Act, it was an offence to sell or offer for sale any flick knife. ...read more.


Under the literal rule, it would have been possible to go through a marriage ceremony. However, under the golden rule, marriage ceremony would amount to bigamy. The golden rule bestows more discretion on judges are they allow judges to choose between meaning of the words of a statute. It can be used to avoid perverse decisions being made under literal rule. However, what amounts to reasonable differs from one judge to another. The mischief rule is laid down in the Heydon?s case. It is said to find out 1. What was the remedy the parliament was trying to provide, what was the problem that the parliament was trying to remedy and what the law was when the statute applied. The mischief rule is said to suppress the mischief and advance the remedy by giving judges more discretion to interpret laws. For example, in the case of Royal College of Nursing UK, The Abortions Act made it illegal for any abortions not done by a ?practiced medical practitioner?. ...read more.


It looks at the spirit of the law rather that the mischief of the act as stated in the mischief rule. However it bestows a lot of discretion on judges. Hence judges may seem like they are ?making laws?. Parliament?s intention of the Act are interpreted by judges to decide on cases. In the case of Coltman v Bibby Tankers, an employee was killed by the defects of the ship. The Company Liability Act was changed and it was said that ?equipment? includes a ship. This gives judges discretion to interpret act according to changing times and modern development however it may undermine parliamentary Sovereignty. Judges may use various aids to interpretations such as intrinsic aid which are explanatory notes, preamble, title or extrinsic aids such as Hansards- a parliamentary debate, textbook dictionaries or rules of language(ejusdem generis, noscituur a sociis and expression unius et exclusion alterius) Judges have certain extent of discretion to interpret laws which differs from each rule. The literal rule has the least discretion and the mischief rule has the most. Judges can also choose to overrule, distinguish, follow or reverse decisions which give them some discretion whether or not to form precedent. ...read more.

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