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Cases - statutory interpretation

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[Home][Index - Cases][ Cases sources of law][Cases - statutory interpretation]

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A v Hoare [2008] HL

Abley v Dale (1851) Jervis CJ

Adler v George [1964] QBD

Allen v Emerson [1944] QBD

Allen, R v [1985] HL

Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission (1969) HL

Attorney General v Associated Newspapers Ltd [1994] HL

B (A Minor) v DPP [2000] HL

Bentham, R v (2003) CA

Bill of Rights 1689

Black-Clawson International Ltd v Papierwerke Waldhof-Aschaffenberg AG [1975] HL

Blake, R v [1997] CA

Bolton School v Evans [2006] CA (Civil Division)

Bulmer v Bollinger [1974] CA

City of London Court Judge & Payne, R v [1982] CA

Connor (and Rollock) and Mirza, R v. (Conjoined Appeals) [2004] HL

Corkery v Carpenter (1951) DC

Curran, R v (1976) HL

Cutter v Eagle Star Insurance Co Ltd [1998] HL

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Davis v Johnson [1979] CA

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Air Travel Group Litigation [2005] HL

Dunnachie v Kingston-upon-Hull City Council  (2003) HA

Duport Steels Ltd v SIRS (1980) HL

Eglen (Inspector of Taxes) v Butcher [1988] Ch Div

Elliott v Grey (1960) QBD

Evans v Cross (1938) DC

Fisher v Bell [1960] QBD

Fothergill v Monarch Airlines Ltd [1980] HL

Fulling, R v [1987] CA

Goodwin, R v [2005] CA

Gregory v Fearn [1953] CA

Grey v Pearson (1857) HL

Hanlon v Law Society (1981) HL

Harris, R v (1836) CCR

Heydon's Case (1584) pre-SCJA 1873

Hutton v Esher UDC (1973) CA

INCO Europe v First Choice Distribution (2000) HL

Inhabitant of Sedgley, R v (1831) pre-SCJA 1873

Inland Revenue Commissioners v Frere [1964] HL

K, R v [2001] HL

Keene v Muncaster (1980) DC

London and North Eastern Railway Company v Berriman (1946) HL

Luke v IRC (1963) HL

Maddox v Storer (1963) QBD

Maginnis, R v (1987) HL

Magor and St Mellons v Newport Borough Council (1952) HL

Marleasing v LA Commercial (1992) EC

Maunsell v Olins [1975] HL

Muir v Keay (1875) QBD

Notham v London Borough of Barnet [1978] CA

Offences Against the Person Act 1861

Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart [1993] HL

Pickstone v Freemans PLC [1988] HL

Powell v Kempton Park Racecourse [1899] HL

Preddy, R v (1996) HL

Procter & Gamble v HMRC [2008] ChD

Professor Zander (The Law-Making Process) 1994

Re: McKerr [2004] HL

Registrar General (ex parte Smith), R v (1991) CA

River Wear Commissioners v Adamson [1877] HL

Rolls Royce Ltd v Heavylift-Volga Dnepr Ltd (2000) QBD

Rookes v Barnard (1964) HL

Royal College of Nursing v DHSS (1981) HL

Savage, R v (1991) HL

Shah v Barnet LBC [1983] HL

Schildkamp, DPP v (1971) HL

Smith v Hughes (1960) QBD

SOS for the Environment ex parte Spath Holme, R v  (2000) HL

Stock v Frank Jones (Tipton) Ltd (1978) HL

Sussex Peerage Case (1844)

Sweet v Parsley [1970] HL

Telegraph Act 1869

Tempest v Kilner (1846)

The Interpretation of Statutes (Law Com. no. 21, 1969)

Whitley v Chappell [1868]

Wood v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (1986) QBD

 

A v Hoare [2008] HL

 

 

 

Whole case here

^[Statutory interpretation – intention of Parliament – precedent use of Practice Statement]
D, known as the Lotto rapist (convicted of several sexual assaults, including rape) attempted to rape V in 1989. He was given a life sentence. At that time, he was not worth suing for damages. In 2004, on day release from prison he bought a lottery ticket and won £7 million. So in 2005, V sued for personal injury, but the claim was rejected by the High Court because her claim had been brought after the six-year limit imposed by the Limitation Act 1980.

Held: A compensation claim against D could go to the High Court for hearing.

The Limitation Act 1980 requires a claimant to bring an action against her assailant for injury within 6 years.

However, Parliament could not have intended to exclude those who had been intentionally injured. Otherwise anomalies would arise such as S v W (child abuse: damages) [1995], in which it was held that a claimant suing out of time was able to pursue a claim against her mother for failing to protect her against sexual abuse by her father, but not a claim against the father himself.

The lower courts considered themselves bound by Stubbings v Webb [1993] HL in which it was held that the flexibility provided for elsewhere in the Act did not apply to a case of deliberate assault, including acts of indecent assault.

The claimant contended that Stubbings v Webb had been wrongly decided and that the House should depart from it. She relied, inter alia, on the Law Commission's report (Law Com No 270) which recommended a uniform regime for personal injuries, whether the claim was made in negligence or trespass to the person.

Courts had a discretion under s 33 of the Act to extend the time in the claimants' favour.
Time ran from when the claimant knew of the injury, which was both a subjective and objective test not whether the claimant considered it serious enough to justify proceedings but whether she would 'reasonably' have done so. Once it had been ascertained what the claimant knew and what she should be treated as having known, the actual claimant dropped out of the picture.

Stubbings v Webb [1993] HL overruled; Letang v Cooper [1964] approved.
KR v Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Ltd (in liq) [2003] All ER (D) 101 (Jun) disapproved.

Claimant won

Abley v Dale (1851) Jervis CJ

[Statutory interpretation – the Literal Rule]

"If the precise words used are plain and unambiguous, in our judgment we are bound to construe them in their ordinary sense, even though it does lead to an absurdity or manifest injustice"

Adler v George [1964] QBD

 

 

Red triangle indicating important information

^ [Statutory interpretation – the Golden Rule]
Adler gained access to a RAF station (a prohibited place within the meaning of the Official Secrets Act 1920) and was actually within its boundaries.  He obstructed a member of Her Majesty's forces engaged in security duty in relation to the station ‘in the vicinity of a prohibited place’ He argued that, as he was actually in the prohibited place, he could not be said to be "in the vicinity" of the prohibited place.

Held
: The defendant was guilty of the offence because "in the vicinity of" should be interpreted to mean on or near the prohibited place.

Allen v Emerson [1944] QBD

^[Statutory interpretation – ejusdem generis]
Concerning whether a ‘funfair’ was a place of amusement. 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.

Allen, R v [1985] HL

^[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids - reports of official commissions and committees]
Recommendations made by committees are often implemented, even if only to a limited degree, by legislation.  Whether such reports could be considered by the court in order to interpret legislation was considered in this case.

Held
:  the House considered a report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee in order to discover the mischief, but it stressed that the report had only been used to determine the mischief to be averted not to interpret the meaning of s.3(1) of the Theft Act 1978.

Anisminic Ltd v Foreign Compensation Commission (1969) HL

 

 

Red triangle indicating important information

^[Statutory interpretation – presumptions, Parliament does not intend to oust the jurisdiction of the courts]
A statute said that "decisions" of the Commission should "not be called in question in any court".

The commission had a duty under the
Foreign Compensation Act 1950 to determine the compensation payable to those whose property had been lost when the Egyptian government nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956. 


Held
: Despite this clear and unambiguous provision the court contrived to preserve their jurisdiction, they claimed the decision was ultra vires, and hence void and no "decision" at all.

That decision demonstrated two things:

  1. that Parliament's power and supremacy depend on the enforcement of its statutes and

  2. Sovereignty depends on the acquiescence of the courts to the power of Parliament.

Also here

 

Attorney General v Associated Newspapers Ltd [1994] HL

 

 

Red triangle indicating important information

[Statutory interpretation – application of the mischief rule]

Information about how the verdict was reached in a criminal trial was disclosed by jurors to someone.  This person passed the information on to a journalist.  The journalist's article was published by a newspaper.

 

The issue was whether it also prohibited publication of the information in a newspaper.
 

It was submitted that Contempt of Court Act applied only to direct contact by or with the jury

 

Held: The argument was rejected.

 

The meaning that was to be given to the word "disclose" in section 8(1) was considered.
Lord Lowry sought to identify the mischief which the Act was designed to remedy. He drew attention a sentence in the Report of the Departmental Committee on Jury Service (1965):

"we agree with those of our witnesses who argued that if such disclosures were to be made, particularly to the Press, jurors would no longer feel free to express their opinions frankly when the verdict was under discussion, for fear that what they said later might be made public."

Later he quoted with approval a passage from a judgment by Beldam LJ:

"Section 8 is aimed at keeping the secrets of the jury room inviolate in the interests of justice. We believe that it would only be by giving it an interpretation which would emasculate Parliament's purpose that it could be held that the widespread disclosure in this case did not infringe the section."

Also here

 

Attorney General’s Reference (No 1) [1988] HL

^[Statutory interpretation - meaning of the word "obtained" - use of Contextual Approach]
D was acquitted of "insider dealing".  The issue was whether he had "obtained" information, which should not be used for trading. There was a narrow meaning which meant "passively receiving" and a wider meaning "actively getting".

 

Held: Parliament must have intended "obtained" to have a wide enough meaning to include its secondary or general meaning of coming into possession of a thing without effort on one's own part.

 

The court interpreted the word "obtained" by following clear steps in the speech of Lord Lowry;

First, literal approach was rejected.

Second, the purposive approach appeared not to be applicable and was rejected.

Thirdly, acknowledging Cross's approach, they used the approach used in Black-Clawson, to decide which of two meanings was correct.

 

Not guilty

Comment: The trial judge took the view that as it was a penal statute it should be narrowly construed, although in recent years that approach has given way to a purposive approach.

B (A Minor) v DPP [2000] HL

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

Whole case here

^[Statutory interpretation – presumptions – mens rea required in criminal offences]

D a 15 year old boy sat next to a girl aged 13 on a bus and incited her to commit an act of gross indecency (a "shiner" = oral sex).  The Crown argued that Parliament had intended the offence to be one of strict liability.

 

Held:  D was entitled to be acquitted of the offence if he held an honest belief that the child in question was 14 or over, and that the prosecution had the burden of proving the absence of honest belief on the defendant's part.

 

Lord Nicholls said it was accepted that D honestly believed V was over 14, and in the light of modern authorities it made no difference whether or not this belief was reasonable. The offence was a serious one, and the presumption that serious criminal offences require proof of mens rea should prevail.

 

Not Guilty

Also her

Bentham, R v (2003) CA

^[Statutory Interpretation - the Purposive Approach]
D robbed A, whom he believed owed him money. A was still in bed. The defendant pointed his finger, covered by his jacket at A and demanded “every penny in the house”.  A believed his fingers were a gun.

 

Held: A purposive approach had to be adopted.  Section 17 of the Firearms Act 1968 was clearly designed to protect the victim confronted with what he thought was a firearm. It did not matter whether it was a plastic gun or a biro or simply anorak material stiffened by a figure. If it had the appearance of a firearm the jury were entitled to find the offence made out.

 

Guilty

Bill of Rights 1689

[Statutory interpretation – courts cannot review Parliament’s decisions]
An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown.

“That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament”

Black-Clawson International Ltd v Papierwerke Waldhof-Aschaffenberg AG [1975] HL

^[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids - reports of official commissions and committees]
Recommendations made by committees are often implemented, even if only to a limited degree, by legislation.
  Whether such reports could be considered by the court in order to interpret legislation was considered in this case.

Held:
The report of the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Committee 1932 could be considered in order to ascertain the mischief to be averted, but the majority stressed that such reports could not be used to interpret the meaning of the words.
 

Lord Reid said:

'We often say that we are looking for the intention of Parliament, but that is not quite accurate.  We are seeking the meaning of the words which Parliament used.  We are seeking not what Parliament meant but the true meaning of what they said.  ...I have more than once drawn attention to the practical difficulties... but the difficulty goes deeper.  Questions which give rise to debate are rarely those which later have to be decided by the courts.  One might take the views of the promoters of a Bill as an indication of the intention of Parliament but any view the promoters may have about the questions which later come before the court will not often appear in Hansard and often those questions have never occurred to the promoters.  At best we might get material from which a more or less dubious inference might be drawn as to what the promoters intended or would have intended if they had thought about the matter, and it would, I think, generally be dangerous to attach weight to what some other members of either House may have said... in my view, our best course is to adhere to present practice.'

Blake, R v [1997] CA

^[Statutory interpretation – presumptions – mens rea required in criminal offences]
This presumption can be rebutted where for example the statute is concerned with an issue of public safety. So D was convicted of broadcasting without a licence because the broadcasts could have interfered with the emergency services and air traffic controllers. 

Bulmer v Bollinger [1974] CA 

 

Red triangle indicating important information

^[Statutory interpretation – must be consistent with EC Law]

Lord Denning

“But when we come to matters with a European element, the treaty is like an incoming tide. It flows into the estuaries and up the rivers. It cannot be held back. Parliament has decreed that the treaty is henceforward to be part of our law. It is equal in force to any statute.”

Bolton School v Evans [2006] CA (Civil Division)

^[Statutory Interpretation – purposive approach]
D employed Mr Evans as a technology teacher. He was dismissed from his job after he hacked into the school’s computer system to demonstrate that security was inadequate. Before doing so he informed the head of the department. He was given a formal warning for hacking into the system. He resigned and claimed constructive unfair dismissal. He claimed he had made a protected disclosure under the
Employment Rights Act. Mr Evans argued that his the course of conduct as a whole should be regarded as an act of disclosure and accordingly the hacking into the computer system had been part of the protected disclosure.

Held: Disclosure was a common word and Parliament did not intend to add some special meaning to the word. The tribunal’s approach was wrongly based on a purposive interpretation of the legislation and not based on the wording of the statute.

D won

City of London Court Judge & Payne, R v [1892] CA

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

[Statutory interpretation – the Literal Rule]

A shipping collision case.

Lord Esher

"If the words of an Act are clear, you must follow them, even though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The court has nothing to do with the question whether the legislature has committed an absurdity. [However] If the words of an Act admit two interpretations, and if one interpretation leads to an absurdity, and the other does not, the Court will conclude the legislature did not intend the absurdity and adopt the other interpretation"

Connor (and Rollock) and Mirza, R v. (Conjoined Appeals) [2004] HL

Whole case here

Red Triangle indicating important information

^[Statutory interpretation - juries - Contempt of Court Act is addressed to third parties not the court]

Connor and Rollock committed wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm by stabbing V.

Mirza committed  indecent assault over a period of time against a girl aged 6 until she was 15/16.  During both trials there were irregularities concerning the juries.

 

In Connor's case a jury member sent a letter to the judge (after verdict but before sentence) saying that the deliberations included discussion that to find both guilty...

"would teach them a lesson, things in this life were not fair and sometimes innocent people would have to pay the price"...

and that if they didn't find both guilty they would be deliberating for another week.

 

In Mirza's case the jury appeared to have doubts about D using a court interpreter despite being resident in the UK or 13 years, they sent two notes to the judge to clarify their doubts (one after verdict but before sentence),

D's barrister also received a letter from a juror which told him the jury thought the use of the interpreter was a ploy, and she described some of the jury deliberations

 

Held:

By a 4-1 majority the appeals were dismissed.

Their Lordships affirmed the principle that not even appeal judges can inquire into the deliberations of jurors.

 

But, a court cannot be in contempt of itself.  Section 8(1) is addressed to third parties who can be punished for contempt, and not to the court which has the responsibility of ensuring that the defendant receives a fair trial.

It is going too far to suggest, as the Court of Appeal appears to have done in R v Young (Stephen), that the trial court will be in contempt of itself if during the trial, having received allegations, it investigates them and discloses the result of these investigations to counsel.

 

Guilty

Also here

Corkery v Carpenter (1951) DC

[Statutory interpretation – mischief rule]
D was in charge of a bicycle whilst drunk.  It is an offence to be drunk in charge of carriage

Held: a bicycle is a "carriage" the mischief was drunks on the highway being in charge of transport

Guilty

Curran, R v (1976) HL

[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids - earlier Acts not available following Consolidation Act]

D was sitting in a stationary car. He had the ignition key with him and was very drunk, he was arrested and breathalysed.  He successfully relied on the defence that there was no likelihood of his driving the car so long as he remained unfit to drive (since changed).

 

He was convicted of failing to supply a sample of urine and was fined £10.  He appealed on the grounds that as the first count failed to prove he was in charge of the vehicle he should be acquitted of the second. 
 

Held: The Act was badly drafted and produced some odd consequences.


Lord Diplock

"[where] the actual words are clear and unambiguous in their meaning it is not permissible to have recourse to the corresponding provisions in the earlier Act repealed by the consolidation Act and to treat any difference in their wording as capable of casting doubt on what is clear and unambiguous language in the consolidation Act itself."

 

"... in the instant case, ... the actual words are clear and unambiguous in their meaning it is not permissible to have recourse to the corresponding provisions in the earlier Act repealed by the consolidation Act and to treat any difference in their wording as capable of casting doubt on what is clear and unambiguous language in the consolidation Act itself"

Guilty

 

Cutter v Eagle Star Insurance Co Ltd [1998] HL

 

Red triangle indicating important information

^[Statutory interpretation – purposive approach]
C burnt by lighter fuel, whilst in a car in a multi-storey car park.

Held
: The meaning of Road did not include a car park.

Court used purposive rather than Literal approach.

Lord Clyde

”In that context it is proper to give effect to the design and purpose behind the legislation, and to give weight to the spirit rather than the letter.”

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

[Problems with Hurried drafting]
Confusion over which dogs were included.

More detail on dangerous dogs, here

Davis v Johnson [1979] CA

Red triangle indicating important information

^[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids - Parliamentary debates]
The traditional rule that the courts could not consider parliamentary debates in order to interpret
legislation, was considered to discover whether the Domestic Violence and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1976 protected cohabitees as well as wives.

Lord Denning considered the parliamentary debates reported in Hansard and stated:-

"Some may say, and indeed have said, that judges should not pay any attention to what is said in Parliament.  They should grope about in the dark for the meaning of an Act without switching on the light.  I do not accede to this view.  ... It is obvious that there is nothing to prevent a judge looking at these debates himself privately and getting some guidance from them.  Although it may shock the purists, I may as well confess that I have sometimes done it.  I have done it in this very case.  It has thrown a flood of light on the position.  The statements made in committee disposed completely of counsel for the respondent's argument before us."

However, his colleague Cumming-Bruce LJ retorted:-

"I am not alarmed by the criticism that I am a purist who prefers to shut his eyes to the guiding light shining in the reports of parliamentary debates in Hansard."

Held: He was wrong to have consulted Hansard.  Lord Scarman:

"There are two good reasons why the courts should refuse to have regard to what is said in Parliament or by Ministers as aids to the interpretations of a statute.  First, such material is an unreliable guide to the meaning of what is enacted.  It promotes confusion not clarity... Secondly, counsel are not permitted to refer to Hansard in argument.  So long as this rule is maintained by Parliament (it is not the creation of the judges) it must be wrong for the judge to make any judicial use of proceedings in Parliament for the purpose of interpreting statutes."  

Departed from in Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart [1993]

 

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Air Travel Group Litigation [2005] HL

 

Whole case here

^[Statutory interpretation – words given their ordinary meaning – intrinsic aids – other sections of the same legislation]

D the airline companies.  The claimants suffered the effects of deep vein thrombosis which occurred during otherwise uneventful long flights.  The only issue was whether the illness amounted to an “accident” under the Warsaw Convention 1929; if it did then those effected would be entitled to compensation.

 

Held: The language of the Convention itself must always be the starting point.

The “accident” which causes the injury must be something other than the injury itself.  The word “accident” had to be contrasted with the word “occurrence” found in other sections of the treaty.

 

C lost

Dunnachie v Kingston-upon-Hull City Council  (2003) HA

 

Full report here

^[Statutory interpretation- meaning of “Loss”]
Mr Dunnachie had been constructively and unfairly dismissed.  He had been subjected to a prolonged campaign of harassment, so claimed additional compensation for distress etc.  For 30 years the law has been that compensation for “Loss” meant pecuniary loss (for example loss of earnings) (the current legislation the Employment Rights Act 1996, s 123). The CofA decided that was wrong.

Held: Norton Tool Co Ltd v Tewson [1972] had been correctly decided and embraced only quantifiable pecuniary losses.

Lord Hoffman's comments in Johnson v Unisys were mere obiter.
Damages for non-financial loss (e.g. injury to feelings) cannot be awarded in unfair dismissal cases.


C lost

Duport Steels Ltd v SIRS (1980) HL

 

Red triangle indicating important information

[Statutory interpretation – ]

Lord Diplock;

"Parliament makes the laws, the judiciary interpret them. When Parliament legislates to remedy what the majority of its members at the time perceive to be a defect or a lacuna in the existing law (whether it be the written law enacted by existing statutes or the unwritten common law as it has been expounded by the judges in decided cases), the role of the judiciary is confined to ascertaining from the words that Parliament has approved as expressing its intention what that intention was, and to giving effect to it. Where the meaning of the statutory words is plain and unambiguous it is not for the judges to invent fancied ambiguities as an excuse for failing to give effect to its plain meaning because they themselves consider that the consequences of doing so would be inexpedient, or even unjust or immoral. In controversial matters such as are involved in industrial relations there is room for differences of opinion as to what is expedient, what is just and what is morally justifiable. Under our Constitution it is Parliament’s opinion on these matters that is paramount."

 

"If this be the case it is for Parliament, not for the judiciary, to decide whether any changes should be made to the law as stated in the Act."

Lord Scarman;

‘If Parliament says one thing but means another, it is not, under the historic principles of the com­mon law, for the courts to correct it…We are to be governed not by Parliament’s intentions but by Parliament’s enactments’.

Eglen (Inspector of Taxes) v Butcher [1988]Ch Div

^[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids -dictionaries and other literary sources]
The court preferred the third definition of infirmity given by the Oxford English Dictionary that is relating to illness, to the first definition which defined infirmity as a weakness or want of strength.

Elliott v Grey (1960) QBD

 

Red triangle indicating important information

[Statutory interpretation – mischief rule]
D left his uninsured car jacked up on bricks with the battery removed.

 

Held: the car was being ‘used on a road’ and needed insurance, it was a hazard of the type which the statute aimed to prevent.

Evans v Cross (1938) DC

[Statutory interpretation – Ejusdem generis]
White line, not a sign “...warning signposts, directions on posts, signs or other devices"

Fisher v Bell [1960] QBD

 

Red triangle indicating important information

Whole case here

^[Statutory interpretation – presumptions, common law remains unchanged]
D displayed a flick knife in a shop contrary to offensive weapons legislation

Held: The knife was not ‘offered for sale’.
  It is presumed the draftsmen know technical legal language and so the common law expression was not altered.

Parliament overruled this decision by statute the same year.

Fothergill v Monarch Airlines Ltd [1980] HL

 

 

Whole case, here

Red triangle indicating important information

[Statutory interpretation – purposive construction preferred ]
Mr Fothergill, in March 1975 arrived at Luton airport the contents of his luggage was missing, he did not complain within the required 7 days.

 

Held: Although on a literal interpretation in an English legal context 'loss' was to be differentiated from 'damage', that was not an appropriate method of interpretation of an international convention, such as the Warsaw Convention, which was incorporated by statute into English law. Instead, a purposive construction was to be adopted.

Lord Diplock drew attention to the importance of this aspect of the rule of law;

"The source to which Parliament must have intended the citizen to refer is the language of the Act itself. These are the words which Parliament has itself approved as accurately expressing its intentions. If the meaning of those words is clear and unambiguous and does not lead to a result that is manifestly absurd or unreasonable, it would be a confidence trick by Parliament and destructive of all legal certainty if the private citizen could not rely upon that meaning but was required to search through all that had happened before and in the course of the legislative process in order to see whether there was anything to be found from which it could be inferred that Parliament's real intention had not been accurately expressed by the actual words that Parliament had adopted to communicate it to those affected by the legislation.”

Where the text of an international convention is printed in another language as well as English, the courts may consider the text in the other language where the English text is ambiguous.

 

Fulling, R v [1987] CA

^[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids -dictionaries and other literary sources]
The word 'oppression' in s.76(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 should be given its ordinary dictionary meaning and adopted the third definition of that word provided by the Oxford English Dictionary.

Goodwin, R v [2005] CA

 

Whole case here

 

Waverunner jetski

 

Picture courtesy of Yamaha

^[Statutory interpretation - common meaning of words]

D was riding a "Waverunner" jet ski which collided with another jet ski, whose rider was seriously injured.
At trial a jet ski was held to be a “ship” and was subject to Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

 

Held: To suggest a jet ski - a “wet bike” called a Waverunner - was a ship was worthy of comic fiction. 
 

The Court of Appeal considered the question and determined that it was neither used in navigation nor was it sea-going. On none of the points did it find the jet ski was a “ship”. Nor they said could it be described as a vessel.

 

Not guilty

Comment: Even though they said that the suggestion that the Waverunner was a sea-going ship is worthy of A.P.Herbert, the matter is to be allowed to go to the Lords.

Gregory v Fearn [1953] CA

^ [Statutory interpretation – Ejusdem generis]
According to the Sunday Observance Act 1677 "no tradesman, artificer, workman, labourer or other person whatsoever" shall work on a Sunday.  Thus the Act did not apply to estate agents because 'other person whatsoever' was interpreted to mean those doing similar jobs to those mentioned.

Grey v Pearson (1857) HL

 

Red triangle indicating important information

^[Statutory interpretation – literal construction]

On interpreting the meaning of a will that required a relative to die 'and' not have children.

 

Lord Wensleydale

"It is 'the universal rule', that in construing statutes, as well as in construing all other written instruments 'the grammatical and ordinary sense of the word is 'to be adhered to, unless that would lead to some absurdity, or some repugnance or inconsistency with the rest of the instrument, in which case the grammatical and ordinary sense of the words may be modified, so as to avoid that absurdity ad inconsistency, but no further'. 

Hanlon v Law Society (1981) HL

[Statutory interpretation – intrinsic aids, punctuation]

Lord Lowry;

“To ignore punctuation disregards the reality that literate people, such as parliamentary draftsmen, do punctuate what they write.”

Harris, R v (1836) CCR

^[Statutory interpretation – expressio unius est exclusio alterius Rule]
Harris bit of the end of a woman’s. The prosecution alleged the bite was included in "stab, cut or wound". This implied that some instrument must be used.

 

Held:
it was evidently the intention of the legislature, according to the words of the statute, that the wounding should be inflicted with some instrument, and not by the hands or teeth;

 

Not guilty

Heydon's Case (1583) pre-SCJA 1873

 

Red triangle indicating important information

 

 

Whole case here:

 

Heydon's Case (1584) 3 Co Rep 7a, Moore KB 128, 76 ER 637, 21 Digest (Repl) 652, 1424

Cited in Applin

 

[Statutory interpretation - the criteria for the Mischief Rule]
Lord Coke in Sir John Heydon's Case:

Statutes in the 16th century and for long thereafter in addition to the enacting words contained lengthy preambles reciting the particular mischief or defect in the common law that the enacting words were designed to remedy. So, when it was laid down, the 'mischief' rule did not require the court to travel beyond the actual words of the statute itself to identify 'the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide', for this would have been stated in the preamble.
 

Held:
1. What was common law before the Act?

2. What was the mischief for which the existing law did not provide?

3. What remedy has Parliament decided upon?

4. Judge should make such constructions on the Act to suppress the mischief and subtle inventions and evasions for continuance of the mischief, according to the true intent of the makers of the Act.

"For the sure and true interpretation of all statutes in general (be they penal or beneficial, restrictive or enlarging of the common law), four things are to be discerned and considered: (1st). What was the common law before the making of the Act? (2nd). What was the mischief and defect for which the common law did not provide. (3rd). What remedy the Parliament hath resolved and appointed to cure the disease of the commonwealth. And, (4th). The true reason of the remedy; and then the office of all the judges is always to make such construction as shall suppress the mischief, and advance the remedy, and to suppress subtle inventions and evasions for continuance of the mischief, and pro privato commodo, and to add force and life to the cure and remedy, according to the true intent of the makers of the Act, pro bono publico"  

Hutton v Esher UDC (1973) CA

^ [Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids -The Interpretation Act 1978]
Could "land" include buildings for the purposes of compulsory purchase? The Interpretation Act said that land included buildings unless stated otherwise, so the buildings were purchased

According to the Public Heath Act 1936 the Council had the authority to build a public sewer:

"in, on or over any land not forming part of a street."

The most economical construction of the sewer would entail demolishing the claimant's bungalow, but the claimant argued that the word 'land' did not include buildings and so that the Council had no authority to compulsorily purchase and demolish his home. 

 

Held: the word 'land' could include buildings and so that the claimant's bungalow could be compulsorily purchased.

Inco Europe v First Choice Distribution (2000) HL

^[Statutory interpretation –The Purposive approach and the Integrated approach – presumptions, gaps are ultra vires]
A Dutch company (S), applied to the High Court for an order to stay proceedings brought against it by I Ltd on the grounds that they had agreed to refer to arbitration. The judge dismissed that application, and refused permission to appeal. Accordingly, S asked the Court of Appeal to grant permission.

 

Section 18 (1)(g) of the Supreme Court Act 1981, when read literally and in isolation, appears to prohibit appeals to the Court of Appeal from the High Court:

'No appeal shall lie to the Court of Appeal… from any decision of the High Court under that Part.'

 

Held: Lord Nicholls:

"I freely acknowledge that this interpretation of s 18(1)(g) involves reading words into the paragraph. It has long been established that the role of the courts in construing legislation is not confined to resolving ambiguities in statutory language. The court must be able to correct obvious drafting errors. In suitable cases, in discharging its interpretative function the court will add words, or omit words or substitute words"

 

"This power is confined to plain cases of drafting mistakes. The courts are ever mindful that their constitutional role in this field is interpretative. They must abstain from any course which might have the appearance of judicial legislation. A statute is expressed in language approved and enacted by the legislature."

 

The phrase ‘from any decision of the High Court under that Part’ was to be read as meaning ‘from any decision of the High Court under a section in that Part which provides for an appeal from such decision’. Although such a construction involved reading words into para (g), that approach to statutory interpretation was permissible where the court was abundantly sure of three matters, namely

  1. the intended purpose of the statute or provision in question,

  2. that the draftsman had inadvertently failed to give effect to that purpose and

  3. the substance of the provision Parliament would have made, although not necessarily the precise words it would have used, if the error had been noticed.

S won

 

Inhabitant of Sedgley, R v (1831) pre-SCJA 1873

[Statutory interpretation – Expressio rule]
 

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

Inland Revenue Commissioners v Frere [1964] HL

[Statutory interpretation – the Noscitur Rule]
‘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.

K, R v [2001] HL

 

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^[Statutory interpretation – presumptions – mens rea required in criminal offences]
D aged 26 indecently assaulted a girl aged 14 he believed her to be 16 and had no reason to disbelieve her.

Held
: the prosecution has to prove absence of genuine belief by the defendant that the girl concerned was 16 or over.

Lord Bingham said that there was an overriding presumption of statutory interpretation that mens rea was an essential ingredient of all statutory crimes unless Parliament indicated otherwise by express words or by necessary implication.

 

Not guilty

Keene v Muncaster (1980) DC

[Statutory interpretation – golden rule]
In order to park in a certain way, permission was required from a policeman in uniform; the defendant was a policeman in uniform.

Held
; Permission had to be requested (i.e. from someone else).

London and North Eastern Railway Company v Berriman (1946) HL

 

[Statutory interpretation – the Literal Rule]
C the widow of a railway worker tried to obtain compensation after her husband was killed by a train, He had been routine maintenance and oiling not ‘relaying or repairing‘ tracks. So she was not entitled to compensation.

Comment: Viscount Simonds
10 years later in Tool Metal Manufacturing Co, Ltd v Tungsten Electric Co, Ltd [1955] HL said he “did not detract one jot from what I said in London & North Eastern Ry. Co. v Berriman

Luke v IRC (1963) HL

[Statutory interpretation – literal approach]

Lord Reid

“The general principle is well settled. It is only where the words are absolutely incapable of a construction which will accord with the apparent intention of the provision and will avoid a wholly unreasonable result, that the words of the enactment must prevail. ...”

Maddox v Storer (1963) QBD

^[Statutory interpretation – golden rule]
D drove a minibus made to carry 11 people at over 30 mph.  Under the Road Traffic Act 1960 it was an offence to drive at more than 30 mph in a vehicle ‘adapted to carry more than seven passengers’. 

 

Held: ‘adapted to’ could be taken to mean ‘suitable for'

Maginnis, R v (1987) HL

^[Statutory interpretation – literal rule]
D was found by police to have cannabis resin his car. He said that the package had been left in his car by a friend for collection later.

Did 'temporarily holding drugs on someone else's behalf' - by taking the drugs from them to return them later - amount
to an "intent to supply"?

 

Held: The meaning of supply was the ordinary one, although the majority definition did not come from a dictionary.

Guilty

Magor and St Mellons v Newport Borough Council (1952) HL

 

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[Statutory interpretation – purposive approach]

Lord Denning;

‘We do not sit here to pull the language of Parliament to pieces and make nonsense of it. We sit here to find out the intention of Parliament and carry it out and we do this better by filling in the gaps and making sense of the enactment than by opening it up to destructive analysis’

(He was saying that by applying the literal rule the intention of Parliament could be destroyed). 

When this case was appealed to the House of Lords, Denning’s approach was considered by Lord Simonds as a

naked usurpation of the legislative function under the thin guise of interpretation…if a gap is disclosed the remedy lies in an amending Act’.

Marleasing v LA Commercial (1992) ECJ

 

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[Statutory interpretation – must be consistent with EC Law]

Held
: Where national courts have to interpret national law in an area governed by Community law, they must interpret that law in the light of the wording and purpose of the Community legislation, so far as it is possible for them to do so.

Maunsell v Olins [1975] HL

[Statutory interpretation – canons of interpretation – literal, golden and mischief rule]
Concerned the word "premises" in the law of landlord and tenant.

 

Held: They are not rules as such, but rather are principles of interpretation developed by the courts. 

Lord Reid

"They are not rules in the ordinary sense of having some binding force.  They are our servants not our masters.  They are aids to construction, presumptions or pointers.  Not infrequently one 'rule' points in one direction, another in a different direction.  In each case we must look at all relevant circumstances and decide as a matter of judgment what weight to attach to any particular 'rule'."

Viscount Dilhorne:

"’Premises’ is an ordinary word of the English language which takes colour and content from the context in which it is used. A reference to Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary shows this to be the case."

Muir v Keay (1875) QBD

[Statutory interpretation – Noscitur a sociis (words take their meaning from the context) ]

D ran premises called The Café; it was found open during the night, and seventeen women and twenty men were there. They had been supplied with cigars, coffee, and ginger beer, which they consumed.

 

Held: The house was kept open for public refreshment, resort, and entertainment, and required a licence.

 

Guilty

Notham v London Borough of Barnet [1978] CA

[Statutory interpretation - purposive approach]

 

Held: Lord Denning MR  the purposive approach is one that will "promote the general legislative purpose underlying the provisions"

 

Offences Against the Person Act 1861

[Statutory interpretation - problems with language – ambiguous, uncertain, meaning and scope - changes over time.]
Drafted nearly 150 years ago uses 'grievous' and 'malicious' which have had to be interpreted as language changes.
 

Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart [1993] HL

 

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^[Statutory interpretation – extrinsic aids - Parliamentary debates– the use of Hansard - the Purposive Approach is preferred]
This case concerned the tax liability of teachers at a public school where one of the perks of the job was that their sons could be educated at one fifth of the usual cost.  This perk was a taxable benefit under s.61(1) of the Finance Act 1976 as it was a cash equivalent. The question for the House of Lords was how much tax should be levied. 

Held
: responses made by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury during the Committee stage of the bill to queries regarding concessions enjoyed by railway men made it clear that tax should be levied at the marginal cost incurred by the employer. Adopting this interpretation, tax should be assessed on the basis of the marginal cost to the employer, not on the average cost of providing education for the employees' sons and the public.

Lord Reid

"To apply the words literally is to defeat the obvious intent of the legislature. To achieve the intent and produce a reasonable result we must do some violence to the words"

Lord Griffiths

"The days have long passed when the courts adopted a strict constructionist view of interpretation which required them to adopt the literal meaning of the language. The courts now adopt a purposive approach which seeks to give effect to the true purpose of legislation and are prepared to look at much extraneous material that bears upon the background against which the legislation was enacted."


Lord Browne-Wilkinson;

"the purposive approach to construction now adopted by the courts in order to give effect to the true intentions of the legislature".

Pickstone v Freemans PLC [1988] HL

 

Whole case here

 

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^[Statutory interpretation - statutory interpretation – constructionist approach - use of Hansard- EC Law takes precedence over UK law]
D, a mail order company employed C (and 4 others) in a warehouse where they claimed they did work of equal value to male colleagues, but were paid less. They claimed equal pay, relying on the Equal Pay Act 1970, which had been amended by Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations 1983.

Held:
 Parliamentary debates could be used in interpreting delegated legislation. UK legislation should be interpreted in accordance with EC Law.  There is a presumption that Parliament will not pass legislation that would conflict with the UK's international obligations.

 

The Regulations of 1983 gave full effect to the decision in Commission v UK [1982], and Art 119 EEC Treaty. The draft Regulations were not subject to the same Parliamentary process, as a Bill would have been. Therefore, in the context of section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972, it permissible to take into account of the draft Regulations presented by the responsible Minister.

 

C won

Also here

Powell v Kempton Park Racecourse [1899] HL

^[Statutory interpretation – ejusdem generis rule]
Was Tattersall’s ring a "house, office, room or other place" when it was an outdoor place?

Preddy, R v (1996) HL

 

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^[Problems with Situations not envisaged]
D committed a fraud in a way that could never have been anticipated by the legislators.  Lead to the Theft Amendment Act 1996

Also here

Procter & Gamble v HMRC [2008] ChD

 

Whole case here

[Statutory Interpretation – literal meaning – reasonable man in the street approach]

D, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMCR)imposed VAT on “[EU Law - article 234 reference - from the Lords]
D, Marks and Spencer claim to have overpaid VAT on tea cakes possibly amounting to more than £3m. This case has already been to the ECJ on one occasion during its 10 year action.

Held: Food is in general zero-rated, but, explained Lord Hoffman, there are exceptions. One exception is confectionery. But there is an exception to that exception: cakes or biscuits are in general also zero-rated. There is however an exception to that exception to the exception, namely biscuits wholly or partly covered with chocolate. They are standard-rated. Art 28 of the Sixth Directive being relevant to the directly enforceable right of the taxpayer.

Matter referred to ECJ a year later, certified question here.

Whole case hereWhole case herPringles” made by C.  HMCR put Pringles in the category of "potato crisps, potato sticks, potato puffs and similar products made from the potato, or from potato flour, or from potato starch" as contained in the VAT Act 1994.  As a result, C was liable to pay 17.5% VAT.

 

Held:  Mr Justice Warren:

Pringles are not potato crisps because they are not made wholly or exclusively from potato, the potato content is less than 50%, they are also made from dough.   Also distinguishing them from crisps is their packaging, and "unnatural shape”. What Pringles are 'made from' was a question of law; which is found by combining two issues of fact; were they made of mostly of potato, in a way other crisps are made.

Regular Pringles are not potato crisps applying these tests.

 Following the judgment, Pringles, in all flavours are free from Value Added Tax (VAT).   Because they are manufactured from dough, “Pringles” are more like a cake or a biscuit.

 

C won.

Comment

Warren J did not confine his interpretation of the statute to single test – for example the literal rule - but also applied EC policy.  In addition, he went on to say,

    “… the reasonable man in the street is not to be removed from the scene by some judicially imposed detention-without-charge.  Once he has understood the context in which he is to form a view, the question of similarity is for him.”

Professor Zander (The Law-Making Process) 1994

    "The golden rule is little more than a safety-valve to permit the courts to escape from some of the more unpalatable effects of the literal rule. It cannot be regarded as a sound basis for judicial decision-making."

Re: McKerr [2004] HL

 

 

Whole case here

 

^[Statutory interpretation - presumptions - legislation is not generally retrospective - HRA not retrospective]

The latest decision by the Law Lords in respect of the alleged shoot to kill policy that allegedly operated in Northern Ireland. This alleged policy was investigated both by John Stalker and Colin Sampson. The applicant in this case sought amongst other things a declaration that the failure by the government to hold an Article 2 compliant investigation was unlawful. Article 2 of the Convention concerns the right to life and The European Court of Human Rights has held that by implication article 2 also requires there should be some form of effective official investigation when individuals have been killed as a result of the use of force the obligation to hold an investigation is an obligation triggered by the occurrence of a violent death.

Held: The deaths relating to this action occurred 20 years before the Act came into forces. The government’s failure to hold an effective official investigation into a violent death caused by a police officer had not breached the Human Rights Act 1998 s. 6(1) since the Act was not retrospective and created no right to investigate deaths which had occurred before its implementation.

Registrar General (ex parte Smith), R v (1991) CA

 

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[Statutory interpretation – purposive approach – judicial consideration to the effect of their interpretation]
The applicant in this case was refused a copy of his birth certificate because he was likely to murder his mother.

”Clearly, in this case, it would be absurd for a court to insist on implementing the clear words used by Parliament without having any thought to the consequences.”

River Wear Commissioners v Adamson [1877] HL

[Statutory interpretation - The Golden Rule]

Lord Blackburn described the golden rule, stating:-

"It is to be borne in mind that the office of the judge is not to legislate, but to declare the expressed intention of the legislature even if that expressed intention appeared to the court to be injudicious; and I believe that it is not disputed that what Lord Wensleydale used to call the Golden rule is right viz. that we are to take the whole statute together and construe it all together, giving the words their ordinary significance unless when so applied they produce an inconsistency or an absurdity or inconvenience so great as to convince the court that the intention could not have been to use them in their ordinary signification and to justify the court in putting on them some other significance which though less proper is one which the court thinks the words will bear."

Therefore, the golden rule requires that the literal rule should be applied to the statute in the first instance, but that if the literal rule results in an ambiguity or absurdity the court should try to interpret it in another manner so as to avoid the ambiguity or absurdity.

 

Rolls Royce Ltd v Heavylift-Volga Dnepr Ltd (2000) QBD

^[Statutory Interpretation - meaning of common word - aerodrome]

D damaged C's goods which fell from a forklift truck whilst being moved from a vehicle at an airport. C argued that the Warsaw Convention 1929, which limited the compensation recoverable, did not apply as the term "aerodrome" used within it had a distinct meaning from "airport".

 

Held: "Aerodrome" was merely an older word for "airport", the carriage of goods by air applied when the goods had been lifted by the forklift truck within the airport with the result that the Convention applied.

 

C won

Rookes v Barnard (1964) HL

^[Statutory interpretation – use of aids – literal construction]

Lord Evershed:

“..Nowadays, when it is a rare thing to find a preamble in any public general statute, the field of inquiry is even narrower than it was in former times.  In the absence of a preamble there can, I think, be only two cases in which it is permissible to depart from the ordinary and natural sense of the words of an enactment.  It must be shown either that the words taken in their natural sense lead to some absurdity or that there is some other clause in the body of the Act inconsistent with, or repugnant to, the enactment in question construed in the ordinary sense of the language in which it is expressed."

Royal College of Nursing v DHSS (1981) HL

 

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^[Statutory interpretation – situations not envisaged – mischief rule]
Use of nurses to carry out abortions who used drugs and procedures not thought of when the Act was passed in 1967. The Act required abortions to be carried out by a ‘registered medical practitioner’.

Held: the Act was intended to provide for safe abortions and nurses could do this.
  Lord Wilberforce and Lord Edmund Davies claimed that judges were not interpreting legislation but re-writing it.

Savage, R v (1991) HL

 

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^[Problems with language – ambiguous, uncertain, meaning and scope - changes over time.]
‘Malicious’ in s20 interpreted to mean D intended harm or at least saw a risk of it (subjective recklessness)

Schildkamp, DPP v (1971) HL

^[Statutory interpretation – intrinsic aids]

D defrauded creditors of a company.

 

Held: Punctuation could be used as aids in cases of ambiguity as could the long title of the Act, headings and side note.

 

Not guilty

Shah v Barnet LBC [1983] HL

[Statutory interpretation – the Purposive Approach]

The five applicants were foreign-born students who applied for, and were refused, local authority grants for their further education. The applicants had all been resident in the United Kingdom for the requisite period but in each case the local education authority claimed that they had not been ‘ordinarily’ resident.

Lord Scarman:
A purposive interpretation may only be adopted if judges

"can find in the statute read as a whole or in material to which they are permitted by law to refer as aids to interpretation an expression of Parliament's purpose or policy"

 

Students won

Smith v Hughes (1960) QBD

 

Whole case here

 

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[Statutory interpretation – mischief rule]
D a prostitute solicited from inside a building to the street.

Held: Her activities were in a "street or public place" for the purposes of the Act to avoid the mischief of the effect of soliciting on passers by.

SOS for the Environment ex parte Spath Holme, R v  (2000) HL

 

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[Statutory interpretation – the purposive approach]

Lord Nicholls

“Citizens, with the assistance of their advisers, are intended to be able to understand parliamentary enactments, so that they can regulate their conduct accordingly. They should be able to rely upon what they read in an Act of Parliament. This gives rise to a tension between the need for legal certainty, which is one of the fundamental elements of the rule of law, and the need to give effect to the intention of Parliament, from whatever source that (objectively assessed) intention can be gleaned.”

Stock v Frank Jones (Tipton) Ltd (1978) HL

 

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[Statutory interpretation – literal rule]
 

Lord Edmund-Davies;
Clear
words must be applied - even if the result is absurd.

 

Viscount Dilhorne:

The aim of the court is to find the intention of Parliament as expressed in the words it used.

 "When the language of a statute is plain it is not open to the court to remedy a defect of drafting"

Held: "dismissal of employees who take part in a strike", did not include 'dismissal of employees taking part in a strike'.

 

Sussex Peerage Case (1844)

 

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[Statutory interpretation –  the Mischief Rule]
Mischief Rule only to be used when the statute is ambiguous.

"Acts should be construed according to the intent of Parliament. If the words are clear no more can be done than to use their natural meaning. The words alone do declare the intention of the lawgiver."

Tindal CJ

'If the words of the statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense.  The words themselves alone do, in such case, best declare the intention of the lawgiver'. 

Sweet v Parsley [1970] HL

 

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^[Statutory interpretation – presumption of mens rea in criminal offences]

Lord Diplock;
The courts will not easily ‘infer an intention of Parliament to create offences for which an honest and reasonable mistake was no excuse’.

“…a general principle of construction of any enactment, which creates a criminal offence [is] that, … they are … to be read as subject to the implication that a necessary element in the offence is the absence of a belief held honestly and on reasonable grounds in the existence of facts which, if true, would make the act innocent.

Telegraph Act 1869

[Problems with language – ambiguous, uncertain, meaning and scope - changes over time.]
When passed the telephone had not been invented, but judges included telephones when dealing with cases under this Act.

Tempest v Kilner (1846)

[Statutory interpretation – Expressio unius est exclusio alterius (the express mention of one member of a class excludes other members of the same class by implication]

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

The Interpretation of Statutes (Law Com. no. 21, 1969)

The Law Commission described the golden rule as "a less explicit form of the mischief rule", because it requires that words be interpreted in the light of their effect.  However, it is based on the literal rule and should only be used if the literal rule would lead to absurdity or ambiguity - the question is how absurd or ambiguous must the meaning be before the golden rule is adopted?  The answer to that question is that it depends upon the judge concerned, which means that the application of the golden rule is erratic and it is very hard to predict what meaning will be assigned to any given word. 

Whitley v Chappell [1868]

 

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[Statutory interpretation – literal rule]
It is illegal to impersonate any person entitled to vote.

Held
: a dead person is not entitled to vote, so in D was acquitted.

Wood v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (1986) QBD

[Statutory interpretation – Ejusdem Generis Rule]

Held
: An accidentally broken glass was not ejusdem generis with "any gun, pistol, hanger, cutlass, bludgeon or other offensive weapon"

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