chapter  3
44 Pages

Statutory Interpretation

J Understand the need for statutory interpretation J Distinguish between the literal and purpose approach J Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach J Identify the literal, golden and mischief rules J Illustrate the operation of the rules by case example(s) J Recognise the difficulty of finding Parliament’s intention J Understand the effect of membership of the European Union on statutory inter-

pretation in the UK

J Understand the importance of human rights in applying the rules of statutory interpretation

3.1 Introduction In Chapter 1 we looked at the enactment of statutes by Parliament and also the making of secondary legislation such as statutory instruments. In each year approximately 60 Acts of Parliament are passed and, in addition, about 3,000 statutory instruments become law. With so much legislation each year, it would appear that judges only have to apply the law. In fact it is said that the role of Parliament is to make the law and the role of the judges is to apply the law. However, the division between making and applying is not as straightforward as this. Many of the disputes that come before the courts concern the meaning of words in an Act or secondary legislation. In such cases judges may well often have to decide on which of two possible meanings should be used or even whether they should ‘fill in the gaps’ where an Act does not make it clear whether a certain situation should be covered.