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There are four main ways, for judges to interpret Parliamentary legislation; they can use the literal rule, golden rule, mischief rule, or the purposive approach.

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Introduction

Lord Scarman stated in Magor and St Mellons v Newport Corporation (1950): "If Parliament says one thing and means another, it is not, under the historic principles of the common law, for the courts to correct it. The general principle must surely be acceptable in our society. We are to be governed not by Parliament's intentions but by Parliament's enactments". (a) With reference to the above source, explain the methods used by judges to interpret Parliamentary legislation. There are four main ways, for judges to interpret Parliamentary legislation; they can use the literal rule, golden rule, mischief rule, or the purposive approach. But on which, depends on the particular judge, as is shown in the text above. Lord Scarman states "If Parliament says one thing and means another, it is not, under the historic principles of the common law, for the courts to correct it" and "We are to be governed not by Parliament's intentions but by Parliament's enactments". This implies that he approves of the literal rule, and strongly disapproves of the others. ...read more.

Middle

Like the literal rule, they follow the meaning of the words in the act literally, but if it does lead to an unfair, harsh or absurd result, they are allowed to avoid it. This goes against what Lord Scarman said in Magor and St Mellons v Newport Corporation [1950] "If Parliament says one thing and means another, it is not, under the historic principles of the common law, for the courts to correct it", the golden rule corrects what the judge believes to be an absurd result, something that Lord Scarman does not agree with. There are two main ways, in which it is used. Firstly you cannot alter the meaning of a word in the act, unless there is more than more meaning, which you are then able to choose between. This is shown in R v Allen [1872] where in the Person Act [1861] section 57 made it an offence to marry when there original spouse was still living, and no divorce had been put through. Marry can mean both, to go through a ceremony or to be legally married. ...read more.

Conclusion

An example of the rule can be found in Smith v Hughes [1960] where under the Street offences act [1959] it was a crime for prostitutes to "loiter or solicit in the street for the purposes of prostitution". The women in question, were calling to men below there balcony. They claimed they were not guilty as they were not present on the street itself. The judge however applied the mischief rule in this situation and found that they were guilty, as the true intention of the act was to avoid the act of harassment from prostitutes. The Purposive approach means to look for reasons why, that particular law was passed using Hansard, and to interpret the words in accordance to that. This approach was set up in Pepper v Hart [1993]. After House of Lords held that courts now take a purposive approach to interpreting legislation, and to find what Parliament intended, all sources including Hansard which is records of debates in Parliament before an Act is passed. This again goes against Lord Scarman's beliefs in the above statement, as it is the opposite of the literal approach. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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A good answer, especially for the literal, golden and mischief rules, all of which are well illustrated with relevant cases. The purposive approach is somewhat briefer and does not have a case illustration.
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Marked by teacher Nick Price 22/03/2012

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