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Statutory Interpretation - other rules of interpretation – Rules of Language

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Other rules of interpretation – Rules of Language

Eiusdem generis

Where words follow specific words

The general words are to be taken as referring only to those things of the same class as specifically mentioned e.g. ‘cats and dogs’ does not include wild animals.

Allen v Emerson [1944] QBD

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There must be at least two specific words in a list before the general word or phrase for this rule to operate.

Held: the phrase ‘theatre or other place of public entertainment’ includes a funfair even though it was not of the same kind as theatres.

Evans v Cross (1938)

Clipart road sign

White line, not a sign "...warning signposts, directions on posts, signs or other devices"

Expressio unius est exclusio alterius

Maxwell, Interpretation of Statutes

Mention of one or more things of a particular class may be regarded as silently excluding all other members of the class"


Clipart toilet

The "men" sign on a toilet door impliedly excludes women and vice versa. 

Surrounding words

So, where specific words are not followed by general words, the things not expressly mentioned are not covered by the Act

Inhabitant of Sedgley, R v (1831)

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Held: "lands and coalmines" implicitly excluded other types of mines from the scope of 'lands'.

Tempest v Kilner (1846)

Held: "goods, wares and merchandise" did not include stocks and shares.

Noscitur a sociis - a man is known by his associates. Statute must be read as a whole

Clarified by context

Latin: the meaning of the words can be understood from the words around them'

So, ambiguous words or phrases can be clarified by referring to the context in which they are used

Inland Revenue Commissioners v Frere [1964] HL

Clipart piggy bank

Applying Noscitur rule, it was held that ‘interest’ meant annual interest. If the words - ‘other annual interest’ – had been left out, the interest could have meant any interest - weekly, monthly and so on.

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