chapter  2
40 Pages

Common tools of statutory interpretation

ByMichael Connolly

The art, science, or 'non-subject' of statutory interpretation is seen by a body of scholarship as a rather ethereal matter. Principles of equality, proportionality, and subsidiarity tend not to jar against each other. They are all tools to achieve the objectives of the Treaties. Proportionality is the rough equivalent to 'Wednesbury reasonableness' used traditionally by English courts in cases of judicial review, although proportionality tends to be a stricter test. In equality cases within the purview of European Union law, there is an obligation to adopt a purposive approach, whilst a looser set of obligatory interpretive practices apply under the Human Rights Act 1998. The habitual rules, including the European influences, will be the point of reference in the outline that follows, and indeed throughout this work. The golden rule was heavily promoted in the Victorian era, most notably by Lord Wensleydale. The mischief rule was set out in 1584 in Heydon's Case.