chapter  2
‘I must confess to having felt some attraction for this approach, as a matter of logic; but I have come to the conclusion that its practical consequences are such that I do not think that it can have been the intention of the legislature so to provide’ (Lord Goff in The Derbyshire [1988] AC 276, p 302). If Lord Goff had to decide Fisher v Bell, would he have arrived at the same conclusion as Lord Parker? 3 ‘The duty of the courts is to ascertain and give effect to the will of Parliament as expressed in its enactments. In the performance of this duty the judges do not act as computers into which are fed the statute and the rules for the construction of statutes and from whom issue forth the mathematically correct answer. The interpretation of statutes is a craft as much as a science and the judges, as craftsmen, select and apply the appropriate rules as the tools of their trade. They are not legislators, but finishers, refiners and polishers of legislation which comes to them in a state requiring varying degrees of further processing’ (Donaldson J in Corocraft Ltd v Pan-American Airways [1969] 1 QB 616, p 638). What is the difference between a craftsman and a scientist? Do they operate according to quite different theories? 4 ‘There may be very sound social and political reasons for imposing upon local authorities the burden of acting, in effect, as insurers that buildings erected in their areas have been properly constructed in accordance with the relevant building regulations. Statute may so provide. It has not done so and I do not, for my part, think that it is right for the courts not simply to expand existing principles but to create at large new principles in order to fulfil a social need in an area of consumer protection which has already been perceived by the legislature but for which, presumably advisedly, it has not thought it necessary to provide’ (Lord Oliver in Murphy v Brentwood DC [1991] 1 AC 398, p 491–92). Are these the words of a craftsman or a scientist?
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X (Minors) v Bedfordshire County Council [1995] 2 AC 633 House of Lords

(See also p 727.)

Lord Jauncy:… Where a statute confers a private law right of action a breach of statutory duty howsoever caused will found the action. Where a statute authorises that to be done which will necessarily cause injury to someone no action will lie if the act is performed with reasonable care. If, on the other hand, the authorised act is performed carelessly whereby unnecessary damage is caused a common law action will lie. This is because the act would, but for the statute, be actionable at common law and the defence which the statute provides extends only to the careful performance of the act. The statute only authorises invasion of private rights to the extent that the statutory powers are exercised with reasonable and proper regard for the holders of such rights. Thus, careless performance of an authorised act rather than amounting to breach of a new duty simply ceases to be a defence to a common law right of action.