Essay about The Rules Of Statutory Interpretation

Essay about The Rules Of Statutory Interpretation

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The rules of statutory interpretation are a guide for judges to decide what parliament means in statutes. The judge would look towards the rules for assistance when faced with a statute, which is difficult to apply to the given facts . There are three main rules. The literal rule requires that words must be viewed in their plain and ordinary meaning, even if there is some sort of absurdity . The golden rule requires words to be given their natural meaning to the extent where they do not produce absurdity . Finally the mischief rule aims to deduce Parliaments intention by looking at former statute . In addition to these, the purposive approach considers the wider purpose of the legislation . As suggested by Quintin Johnstone, the rules of statutory interpretation have been attacked as inconsistent, uncertain, and undesirable, both in what they say and how they are applied by the courts. There is little doubt that the rules are a useful mechanism for interpreting statues, which is evident in many cases. However the problem lies in the clarity of the rules.

The depth of the rules:

When faced with a difficult point of interpretation, an “overall evaluative judgment by the court will be required” . It is believed that “every reading of a statute… is equally valid and, to that extent, statutory interpretation is not objective and interpreters are free within the text to choose from amongst several possible readings of it” . The interpretation of statutes provides the judge with a certain degree of freedom in how they interpret a statute. This is the problem. The way in which the rules are implemented lack consistency. This is more prominent in certain rules rather than others. The literal rule requires words to be taken in their pla...


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... and should be merely looked at as aids in judgment. There is thus no pressure to apply a specific rule because there is no right or wrong rule to apply. This suggests that the rules of statutory interpretation are not as important as portrayed. Therefore the question of whether the ‘rules’ of statutory interpretation are clear cannot be answered as they are not in fact rules but are merely to be taken into account by the judge.

To conclude it is evident that the rules of statutory interpretation are not clear. Though they are useful they lack clarity and guidance, which causes their downfall. When faced with a statute, which is difficult to apply, the judge is left to decide by his or her own judgment what the interpretation of the statute should be. This lack of clarity causes inconsistency in statutory interpretation and further weakens the strength of the rules.

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