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The three main rules of statutory interpretation are the literal rule, the golden rule and the mischief rule.

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´╗┐Question 2 This essay outlines the rules of statutory interpretation. The essay will starts by explaining what the rules are, and how they are used. This will follow by the three main rules: the literal rule, the golden rule and the mischief rule. The essay will also outline the difficulties that courts face in applying the rules. The rules are not in fact rules, but guidelines. Law is a system of rules. The rules are a vital part of our social environment. We are subject to the rules at all times: at work, at home, in the shops. Statutory interpretation uses rules to help interpret what Parliament has enacted. The interpretation of statute has become a hugely personal affair with judges attempting to have their final say and using whatever means to justify their decisions in a particular case. Some judges have their own favorite rule and the different outcomes may result from the use of different rules. ...read more.


For example, in the case of Whiteley v. Chappell (1868) ?the defendant pretended to be someone who was on the voters list, but who had died. He was charged with impersonating ?a person entitled to vote?, but was found not guilty.? (Understanding law 2008, p.91) . The conclusion draft by the court was that the defendant could not be convicted of the statutory offence because the person was dead. And according on a literal rule construction a dead person was not a person entitled to vote. Using the literal rule can also lead to injustice. For example, a railway worker?s widow claimed damages from her husband; the claimant husband was killed while oiling points along a railway line. Under the relevant statutes, compensation was only payable if he had been relaying or repairing the line. And the House of Lords held that claimant husband had merely been maintaining them, so she was denied compensation. ...read more.


In conclusion, this essay explained that statutory interpretation is the process of interpreting and applying legislation. There are rules used by the courts to interpret the meaning of an Act. These rules are necessary because the meanings of an Act can be unclear, that?s why these rules are used to make a judge's task of reaching a clear understanding of an Act, much easier. There are three main rules: the literal rule, golden rule and mischief rule. The literal rule is used by judges to look at the literal meaning of words in an Act. If the words of an Act are unclear you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The golden rule also looks at the literal meaning of words of an Act but allows the court to avoid an interpretation which may lead to an absurd result. The mischief rule involves looking at Parliament's intention for the Act, by determining the defect that the statute in question is trying to remedy. ...read more.

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3 star(s)

Good on the literal and golden rule but poor on the mischief rule.

Further, the purposive approach is not addressed at all. Under this rule, the focus is on what Parliament intended when passing a new law. Good examples wold be Jones v Tower Boot Co. and Pepper v Harts.

3 Stars.

Marked by teacher Edward Smith 23/10/2013

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