Approaches to Interpretation

In: English and Literature

Submitted By chlomoore
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Unit 1 – Section A - Statutory Interpretation
Approaches to Interpretation
The Literal Rule
Under this rule, the courts will give words their plain, ordinary or literal meaning, even if the result is not very sensible.
“If the words in an act are clear, then you must follow them even though they lead to a manifest absurdity.” (R v Judge of the City of London Court)
Examples:
(Whiteley v Chapel) – D charged under a section which made it an offence to impersonate any person entitled to vote. D impersonated someone who was on voting list but was deceased. D was not guilty as the person is dead they are not literally entitled to vote.
(London and North Eastern Railways Co v Berriman) – Unable to claim when husband was killed whilst carrying out maintenance work oiling railway track. Statue said a look out should be provided when relaying or repairing the track. Words relaying and rapairing were given the literal meaning and didn’t cover maintenance.

The Golden Rule
It takes the literal meaning but the court is allowed to avoid interpretation which would lead to an absurd result.
There are 2 views on how the golden rule should be used 1) the narrow application and 2) the wider application 1) Narrow application – if a word has more than one meaning, you can choose between them
In Jones v DPP if a word had more than one meaning “You can choose between those meanings but beyond this you cannot go”.
Examples:
(R v Allen) – Example of narrow application
Was a bigamist. S.57 OAPA made it illegal. The word marry had more than one meaning. 1) legally married and 2) goes through a ceremony of marriage. The D wanted to take the first definition as you can’t be legally married twice at the same time. Court took second meaning to avoid an absurd result. If the first definition was followed the offence would be impossible to commit. 2) Wider application – The…...

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