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essay on statutory interpretation in uk

  • Crime, justice and law

The interpretation of statutes

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essay on statutory interpretation in uk

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Statutory Interpretation Essay

Info: 3000 words (12 pages) Essay Published: 23rd Nov 2020

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Jurisdiction / Tag(s): UK Law


Statutory interpretation is process of interpreting statutes by the judges. The word of interpretation gives us thought that Act of Parliament is difficult to be understood but conversely, the definition of statutes have had very specific words but indeed the judges would still need the statutory interpretation to help them. The reason of this, even how, the words in the statutes are specific but sometimes the words contains ambiguity and vagueness in words. On top of that, each word could give us different meanings; for example, we can find in the Oxford Dictionary where a word would contain at least one meaning. Hence, without the statutory interpretation, a lot of judges would have trouble in deciding their judgments in deciding a case.

Traditional Rules

In developing the interpretation of any statues, any judges have to follow the traditional rules as their guidelines in determining the meaning of the Act of Parliament. The first rule, the literal rule is the first rule that started and also can be considered as the least problematic method in interpretation. The literal rule actually required the judges to consider what the legislation actually says than it rather meaning. In the context of legislation, judges would have to consider their literal meaning that it are in plain, ordinary, everyday meaning. However, the judges can’t adjust the meaning of the statues to achieve the court’s view that they consider as acceptable result. The main advantage of the literal rule is that it fits easily in the constitutional principle without causing any much of problems. Even how, Cross’s formulation was able to establish the limitation of literal rule. In his formula, he stated that the judge would have to give effect that only involves grammar based on statues or the technical meaning of the words; he must also determine the extent of the general words with reference. From the statement of the Cross about the formula, it is able to be criticise that, all the interpretation would not be interpreted in phrases or sentences instead it would be interpreted in isolated words. Thus, when the isolated words are combined together, the meaning of the statute would make no sense due to the comparative clear meaning. On top of that, we could also criticise that, even, the literal rule that involves an ordinary meaning, would help to draw a clear distinction line between the ordinary and technical words in statues and this also involves in the discretion in the judges. Hence, it would certainly lead to uncertainty. We also involve technical meaning of words, then, it’s unable to obtain the ordinary meaning anymore. Furthermore, criticisms did not just only come from Cross’s formulation but also the case of Whiteley v Chappell. In this case, the defendant was charged under an offence to impersonate ‘any person entitled to vote’. The defendant had pretended to be a person whose name was in the list but is already dead. Court held that, he was not guilty since the dead person is not, in the literal meaning of words, ‘entitled to vote’. Through this case it was able to prove that the literal rule actually leads to absurdity. To conclude, the literal rule was not a good rule to follow as it provide only one interpretation. Besides than that, the intention of the legislature would not be shown if the judges would to follow this rule. Lastly, it leaves little room for the judicial law making. Next, the other rule is the golden rule. The golden rule is only be used if the judges apply the literal rule and finds that it lead to absurdity then the judges would have to need to proceed to use the golden rule. Even how, before the judges could do that, the judges must determine the genuine difficulties before proceeding to the golden rule. The use of the rule, actually involves the judges to find what the statute should have said or mean rather than what it actually already stated there. In golden rule, we would able to find there are two versions of golden rule. One of it is narrow meaning; this is only used where there are two apparently contradictory meaning. The other versions, is the wider meaning, where it is resorted when there is only one possible meaning to a provision. In this rule, we find that it help to avoid absurdity or abhorrent result. On top of that, which is also the most important that is the decision of the case most of the time is able to refer to the Parliament intention. The golden rule would also help to closes the lacuna which is also known as the loopholes in the law. However, this rule also helps the judges to develop their creative thinking where the judges can add or change the meaning of the statutes anytime. This would breach the separation of power where no clear distinction is drawn anymore. Besides than that, when there is absurdity happen in the case, the judges won’t have the power to intervene provide justices to the party. Even how, the absurdity issues can be resolve in the golden rule but another issue at the same time had risen in the golden rule, the injustice. The last rule to use is the mischief rule if neither literal rule nor golden rule could help to solve the judge’s problem. The mischief rule is known as the most flexible rule and it is established in the Heydon’s case. The mischief rule would only be use if there is still ambiguity even though it had been followed in the literal rule and golden rule. This rule goes much further than the golden rule in the sense of the rule would further investigate the position of the statute in relation to the law as a whole and gives court more leeway in their construction of statute. The court’s objective then would involve on the purpose of the statute and the intention of the legislature rather than depending on the words before them. On top of that, the scope of the rule is that it did far more than allow judges to choose between the different meanings of the statutory language or infer into the statute a small number of words. It is a flexible rule where it could be adapt it many kind of cases. However, this rule also has many disadvantages. This rule would indirectly make the judge to have the role to make the law. Thus, the separation of power would be voided in this kind of circumstances. Lastly, the judges would also able to bring in the subjective case such as the morality and prejudice.

In conclusion, even though, United Kingdom involves so many rules in the statutory interpretation but none of them help to reduce the problem. There would always be injustice or absurdity even though the rules are been followed. This is because the rules are slowly helping the judges to develop their creative thinking and this should not be happening where in theoretically, judges shouldn’t be making law but in the golden and mischief rule it had help to developed this kind of issue and it is certainly unpredictable. On top of that, the court could actually look into the Hansard to determine what the mischief was that Parliament was trying to remedy but the court refused to seek the Hansard as the guide, then, how can we weigh whether there is justice in the law where the problem already started at the first ground from the statutory interpretation. Thus, no matter how many rules that is develop to avoid the problems stated above, there won’t be a way to help to solve the issues.

Purposive Approach

In statutory interpretation, there are two approaches which are the literal and purposive approach. The purpose of the both approaches was to determine how judges should go about determining the meaning of a statute. Since, United Kingdom is one of the European Union countries and with that the EC law would require more shift on the purpose approach. Hence, the purposive approach is widely used in interpreting the statutes rather than the literal approach. The purposive approach rejects strongly on judges limitations on searching the meaning of the literal meaning of the word in the legislation itself. The approach is to enable for the judges to look beyond the words of statute in search of the reason of enactment and from there the meaning of the word would be construe on the purpose of such enactment and as to give it effect. In these jurisdictions, the legislation tends to set out the general principle and the fine details would leave to the future to fill in the gap by the judges later on in later cases. Hence, the purposive approach was not set to make sure that the approach is also to cover the purpose in future but the purposive approach is to make sure it cover the purpose now. Thus, to conclude, in order for the judges to interpret the statutes accurately, they must understand why the Parliament passed the statute then from there the judges would be able to determine the purpose of the enactment of the statute. Hence, the statute would able to be applying in the correct way of what the Parliament hope for.

History Of E.U & Development Of U.K In Becoming Member Of E.U

The primary reason on why European Union was established was that European countries would like to end the bloody wars in Second World War. There are six countries who founded the European Union. They are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. On the 9th May 1950, Robert Schuman, the Foreign Minister planed to cooperate with the six countries. His plan was to sign a treaty with the six countries in running the heavy industries of coal and steel under the common management. From there, the six countries can’t make their own nuclear weapon to fight against each other. After the signing the Coal and Steel Treaty, the six countries expanded to economic sector but no long after they signed another Treaty of Rome and formed the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) to enable goods and services could move freely in the six countries. In the 1950s, the European Coal and Steel Community united the European countries economically and politically to secure the lasting peace. However, during that time, United Kingdom, did not want to enter negotiations in Robert’s plan because United Kingdom objected to the supranational role envisioned.

As time goes by, in the 1960s when the EEC’s apparent economic was very successful, then the United Kingdom intended to enter negotiations to enter the membership of the European Union. However, British membership was vetoed by the French president, Charles de Gaulle that he claimed that the British were having a good relationship with the United States of America. In 1967, they again applied for the membership but they were turned down for the second time. However, when Charles resigned and his position was replaced by Georges Pompidou in 1969. Georges then held a summit meeting of the leaders in the Netherlands where his aim of the summit meeting was to create a way for the creation of a permanent financing arrangement for the E.C. On top of that, he also aimed for development of a framework for the foreign policy cooperation among the member nations and open negotiations for memberships with the Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway. Then, that is only when the United Kingdom eventually enter the European Union membership.

Effect On U.K Due To E.U Membership

After the membership with the European Union, United Kingdom had a drastic changed in their system in ruling the nation. One of the most highlighted effects after the E.U membership was the statutory interpretation. We know that in U.K does not have written constitution and the Parliament is above all. Parliament is the place where the law is making in any form but when U.K entered E.U, the conditions of membership were stated that all E.U law are automatically U.K’s law without going through the Parliament. On top of that, the E.U law is binding to all the member states. However, we might ask what if before U.K enters E.U, U.K had law now that conflicts with E.U law? This is when the problem had arose, since, the day of membership U.K courts must make sure that they would depart Orthodox principles because they do not want to conflict with the E.C law. We would see that judges would use the statutory interpretation and their creative mind to slightly modified the meaning of the statutes just because they do not want to conflict with the E.U law. Therefore, in this case, the statutory interpretation had been misused where in actual purpose was to help the judges to interpret the statute based on their main purpose that the Parliament wanted to apply but due to E.C, the judges would have no choice but to modify it. Thus, the real purpose of the statute would not remain. In this sense, if there is any conflict, the court would not choose to have new constitution, however, they would modified the version of the statute to achieve the sovereignty of Parliament. This argument can be argued using the case of Factortame v Secretary of State for Transport (No.2).This case is that the applicants who were controlled by the Spanish of nationals. This problem arose after U.K enter the E.U where it guaranteed the freedom of goods, services, people and capital and this case had challenged the validity of the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 on basis that in contravened the E.C Treaty and had deprived their rights that were stated in the Community law. The applicants immediate applied for an interim injunction to restrain the Secretary of State to enforce the Act. However, the House of Lords overruled the suspension held that the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 was in force that it must be interpreted in accordance with the E.C provisions. For this case, we already noted that U.K. Parliament not only lose their sovereignty indirectly but at the same time the statutory interpretation in interpreting the Merchant Shipping Act was not the purpose that the Parliament had intended. This shows that the effect of the E.U law had cause U.K cases to be decided in absurdity with regard using the statutory interpretation.

Therefore, we could also see that the limitation of the sovereignty Parliament was accepted when it enacted the European Communities Act 1972 was entire voluntarily. At the same time, it becomes the duty for the U.K to override any rule of national law found to be conflict directly with the Community law.

The other effect was in the Human Rights Act 1998. Human Rights Act 1998 was passed to protect the rights of the people, unfortunately, till a certain extent, it did protect the rights of the people but again it is not so simple in practise .Firstly, in section 3, the court must use the statutory interpretation to interpret legislation that ‘so far as is possible’ compatible with the Convention rights which was defined under the Act. This section had make rules of interpretation must take as the second place requirement of compatibility. Besides than that, the more meaning after the interpretation, the judges must have to choose the meanings that most conform the convention. Hence, this will show that how far that a judge can expand the meaning where it won’t be able to have open room for interpretation. Secondly, in section 2, the court must ‘take into account’ that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights together with opinion and decisions of the European Commission of the Human Rights and decisions of Committee of Minister with regard to about Convention rights, when deciding any question about Convention rights. Lastly, in section 4, the judges was able to interpret the statute that had contravene with the Convention rights of the High Court, Courts of Martial Appeal, Court of Appeal, House of Lords or Privy Council can make declaration of incompatibility but no one can make it as invalid Act.

Once again, we can see that, even though, the Human Rights Act 1998 main purpose was to protect people’s rights but due to the membership with E.U, the purpose of the Human Rights Act 1998 does not matter anymore, as the first thing first is that it must not contravene with any E.U law and this also to be determined through statutory interpretation then we can also argue that what’s the use of the statutory interpretation? Why not just pass any Act that would not contravene with the E.U then judges would not need to waste time on to interpret the statutes creatively. However, this matter would not be able to resolve when it involves in the political party.

Statutory interpretation primary main objective was to help judges to interpret on the purpose of the Act but till today this objective still stand but at the same time there is something holding it back, it is the U.K’s membership with E.U. Due to this, E.U had been somehow rule U.K and U.K is somehow like losing its power in ruling its own nation. Anything that happened such as any act contravene with E.U, U.K had to make sure using statutory interpretation in hope to modify the Act until the purpose of the Act had been blurred. This had made so many decisions in cases to be absurd or better be known as injustice but yet again what can we do to resolve such things from happening. The answer to that would never be seen or heard as long as U.K still remain in E.U. hence, no matter how hard U.K tried to solve this issue, it would not succeed because we can see that how U.K afraid to conflict with E.U law. Therefore, to conclude, U.K would always lies in shade of gray with regards to the rules relating to statutory interpretation due to its membership with E.U.

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Statutory Interpretation

Statutory Interpretation

Discuss the rules and other aids used in statutory interpretation which the judges could use to help them arrive at a decision in each of the appeals. You should also pay attention to judicial precedent and assess whether the case that the appellants wish to use may be binding on the Court of Appeal. This case study will investigate how certain rules or aids in statutory interpretation can affect the decision of an appeal in court due to the different circumstances involved in a case.

There will be three main cases that will be discussed in order to gain an insight into how different rules used in law; such as the mischief rule, literal rule and golden rule can affect how certain legislation can be interpreted within various cases. It’s important to consider judicial precedent and how it can influence the decisions made by a judge in a court of law, along with looking at the way in which laws can be misleading due to the way they are worded and interpreted by an individual.

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When looking at statutory interpretation it’s vital to understand that some statutes can be straight forward and have a simplistic meaning, however this is not always the case as there can be confusion over the true meaning of various statutes; words can become ambiguous, meaning that there can be misperceptions made about whether or not individuals are right in their appeals. When in court it is usually the judge that will apply and interpret the legislation given to them, thus making their decision based on what is seen as the most likely meaning of an original statute when it was processed.

The use of judicial precedent is significant when dealing with a majority of court cases as it is based on the rule of stare decisis, meaning ‘let the decision stand’. This shows that what is decided by a court in the past should not be disregarded when looking into similar cases in lower courts. Although when any decision is made it is vital that Ratio decidendi is applied, this means that any points made in the case must be stated in order for the verdict to hold relevance.

Similarly Obiter dictum can be used, however it is just an observation made by a judge and doesn’t automatically link up with the courts final decision. To help establish how to interpret the legislation there are three rules in place, the first being the literal rule; which states that when looking at a statute it should be taken on board in a precise form and shouldn’t deviate from its original meaning.

Whereas one of the other rules is the golden rule which is where the judge is able to proceed with the case in the way they would interpret best to avoid an illogical outcome. The final rule is the mischief rule; which can be used when a statute is approved to remedy a flaw in the common law, meaning that a judge is able to interpret what they believe parliament’s intentions were when making the statute.

The litter act states that: (1) It shall be an offence to drop litter in a public place (2) Litter means bottles, papers or other such items In the case of Jamal, where he was arrested, convicted and appeals the decision; as he was walking and his shopping dropped over the floor, due to the bag splitting. He could argue that in this instance it was not his fault that the bag wasn’t strong enough to hold his items and that there is a possibility that the manufacturer of the bags should be addressed instead of him.

It could be questioned as to whether Jamal can be held responsible for the conviction given to him as the legislation states that it is an offence to drop litter in a public place, and in this instance the shopping bag split; therefore he didn’t “drop” anything with intent. This would suggest that the rule most relevant to the case would be the golden rule and mischief rule as a judge would take into account that Jamal didn’t deliberately drop his shopping but accidently split the bag in which he was carrying his items.

Therefore the judge would interpret the statute as being irrational and ambiguous in this case due to the circumstances that caused Jamal to be convicted. Another case is that of Julia, who was walking whilst carrying a folder of papers when the wind blew them out of her hands and into the street; she was then stopped, arrested, convicted and then made an appeal as she could argue that she couldn’t control the weather as there were strong winds that affected her grip of her folder, thus it would have been difficult to avoid this situation.

When looking into Julia’s case it’s clear that she didn’t “drop” any paper but that the weather was beyond her control and she had lost grip of the folder, this would mean that the most appropriate rule to be used in this instance is the golden rule as it would be absurd to convict Julia of something that she was unable to stop. Therefore in reflection it would be more suitable for a judge to use the golden rule allowing ‘judges to depart from the ordinary meaning of the word’ according to Akhtar and Ward (2011).

One of the other instances is the case of Junita, who fell asleep whilst on a park bench and the fish and chips wrapper she was holding in her hands had fallen on the floor, leading to her being arrested, convicted and appealing the decision as she could have maintained that she was unaware that she had been littering and this led to her unintentionally dropping her rubbish. On the other hand it could be argued that she no longer needed the fish and chips wrapper as it had no further use, so by dropping it on the floor she was disposing of the rubbish.

Therefore when the case is taken to court it would seem that the most appropriate rule to use in this occurrence would be the literal rule so ‘the ordinary and natural meaning of the language should be used in the statute’ according to Akhtar and Ward (2011). Through using the literal rule in cases such as Junita’s the statute can produce a rational interpretation that could give a fair outcome to the end of the trial.

When looking at the counsel that wishes to cite a Canadian Supreme Court case can be seen as irrelevant due to the fact that Canada is not part of the European Union, therefore their assessments in previous court cases cannot be counted and have no connection to the judicial precedent in cases provided. In conclusion the literal, golden and mischief rules can be used in court to support the statutory interpretations of statutes as they can give judges a better understanding of how to review any cases where statutes are unclear or out of date.

In the cases of Jamal and Julia it is clear that there is uncertainty as to whether they were actually littering, due to the fact that the items that had fallen on the pavement weren’t pieces of rubbish but could have been important documents or shopping, this in turn could show that when the statute was drafted there is a possibility that errors were made as it doesn’t specify what is actually counted as litter as the explanation is too broad, through using terms such as ‘litter means bottles, papers or other such items’, this makes it unclear as to whether items from Jamal and Julia’s cases could come under this category.

On the other hand in the case of Junita, there is no evidence to show that when she awoke she wouldn’t have picked the wrapper up and put it in the bin, therefore the choice to convict her was based up on an assumption, which isn’t reliable enough in try in court.

Through looking at these three cases it is shown that the literal, golden and mischief rules can be helpful in statutory interpretation as it becomes easier to grasp whether or not in the case of the litter statute, the rules could be applied to ensure that the correct judgement is given to any individual being tried in a court of law. Bibliography Akhtar, A. and Ward, R. (2011) Walker & Walker’s English Legal System. 11th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

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Many statutes are passed by parliament each year. The meaning of the law in these statutes should be clear and explicit but this is not always achieved. Parliament sometimes includes sections defining certain words used in that statute; such sections are called interpretation sections, which define certain words in the act itself. Despite these aids many cases come before the courts because there is a dispute over the meaning of an Act of Parliament. In such cases the court’s task is to decide the exact meaning of a particular word or phrase. There are many reasons why the meaning may be unclear. There may be words designed to cover several possibilities, which can lead to problems as to how broadly this should be used. This example can be seen in the case of Brock v DPP (1993) where there was a discussion over the word “type,” and what exactly was meant by this expression. This paper from Another factor, which will strongly affect the meaning of an Act of Parliament, is the change in the use of language. The meaning of a word can change over time which can is illustrated in the case of Cheeseman v DPP (1990) where the defendant “willfully and indecently exposed his person in a street to the annoyance of passengers.” The passengers happened to be police officers. He was charged under section 81 of the Public Health Amendment Act 1902. Another reason why a meaning may be unclear is due to ambiguity. A word may have two or more meanings and it may not be clear on which meaning to use. An unclear meaning can also be established if there has been an error in drafting. The Parliamentary Counsel who drafts the original Bill may have made an error, which has not been noticed by Parliament. This essay from It is important to note first of all that parliament makes the law and it is the courts job to merely interpret and apply it to particular cases and situations. When interpreting the law, Judges have certain aids and presumptions to assist them in their task. There are no legally binding ‘rules’ as such to aid the courts but the different approaches used are referred to as rules, evident from Lord Reid’s statement in the case of Maunsell v Olins [1975] 1 All ER 16:

“They are aids to construction. Not infrequently one rule contradicts another. In each case we must look at all the relevant circumstances and decide as a matter of judgment what weight to attach to a particular rule…”

It is not in the courts power to interpret in such a way as to thwart the intention of the legislature, even in cases concerning moral, social or ethical issues in doing so. This idea is evident in the case of Magor & St. Mellons RDC v Newport Corporation [1951] 2 All ER 1018, where Lord Denning tried to avoid injustice created when applying the plain meaning to a statute but was overruled in the House of Lords where Lord Simonds stated that this amounted to a “naked usurpation of the legislative function under the thin disguise of statutory interpretation”. The approach taken by judges to interpret statutory provisions is one that requires a lot of thought. However, their approach can only do as much as provide a frame from which they can work. It cannot provide them with a solution to the problem. When a problem regarding statutory interpretation comes before the court, a decision has to be made as to what the language in the statute implies, the purpose of the statute and cases that have already been decided regarding the same issue. Arguments from both counsels are put before the court with respect to these matters. The different interpretations obtained from the statute are then examined to determine which interpretation applies to the statutory scheme. The case of Cheeseman, as mentioned earlier, illustrated several of the problems of statutory interpretation. It is an example of the courts taking the words literally. However, it can be argued that the defendant “willfully and indecently exposing his person in a street” and that he was caught doing that. Is it important that the police officers were “passengers?” Some people would argue that the whole purpose of the Act was to prevent this sort of behaviour; this is the purposive approach to statutory interpretation – instead of looking at the precise meaning of the word, a broader approach is taken. This conflict between the literal approach and purposive approach is one of the major issues in statutory interpretation. Should judges examine each word literally or should it be accepted that an Act of Parliament cannot cover every situation and that the meaning of words cannot always be exact? In English law the judges have not been able to agree on which approach should be used, but instead, over the years they have developed three different rules of interpretation:

Each rule take different approaches and some judges prefer to use one rule while other judges prefer another rule. This means that in English Law the interpretation of a statute may differ according to which judge is hearing the case. However, once an interpretation has been laid down it may then form a precedent for future cases under the normal rules of judicial precedent. Professor John Willis analysed these principles in his article “Statute Interpretation in a Nutshell”409  31.  He implied that

“a court invokes whichever of the rules produces a result that satisfies its sense of justice in the case before it. Although the literal rule is the one most frequently referred to in express terms, the courts treat all three as valid and refer to them as occasion demands, but, naturally enough, do not assign any reason for choosing one rather than another” 409 32 from coursework work info

We will now apply these rules or approaches to the cases at hand including the Child Safety Act 2003. The Literal Rule Under this rule, developed in the early nineteenth century, the courts will give words their ordinary or literal meaning, even if the results is not very sensible. This idea was expressed by Lord Esther in the case of R v Judge of the City of London Court [1892] 1 QB 273 where he stated:

“If the words of an act are clear then 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.”

This rule has been widely used even though the results have made nonsense of the law. This is illustrated in the case of Whitely v Chappell [1868] 4 QB 147 where it was held that the defendant was not guilty since a dead person is not, in the literal meaning of the word, “entitled to vote”. This rule has also bought about harsh decisions due to the way it is applied. In the case of London & North Eastern Railway Company v Berriman (1946) a railway worker was killed doing maintenance work – oiling points along a railway line. His widow tried to claim compensation but failed after the courts took the words, “relaying” and “repairing” in their literal meaning and said that oiling points was maintaining and not replaying or repairing. Professor Michael Zander has denounced the literal rule as being mechanical and divorced from the realities of the use of language due to such rulings through this approach. Looking at the Act and case at hand, The Child Safety Act 2003, it can be argued that this is interpreted literally. The broad terms used in the statute such as ‘any person’ means that it would be applicable to every person. This would therefore include Jemima and any other child younger than her who is likely to be negligent as to such circumstances. However, in contrast with this point, a young person under the age of 10 is not considered in law to be capable of deciding what is a wrong action or a right one and is therefore considered to be too young to be held criminally liable. Another broad term used in the Act is ‘other toys’. Whether the homemade go-kart would construe as a ‘toy’ is debatable. Although Jemima sold her self-constructed go-kart to Patrick, there was no legal contract of the sale. It can therefore be debated as to whether the statute would be applicable to such circumstances. If the literal rule is used regarding the situation where a pogo stick was being purchased from a toy store, although it would be a valid contract of sale, and it is regarded as a toy; the statute refers to wheeled toys. The report published by the Institutes of Casualty Consultants issued that casualties resulted from ‘poorly constructed wheeled toys’. A pogo stick doesn’t consist of any wheels, so it can be debated as to whether the statutory provision would apply to this case. However, it all depends on the literal extent to which the statute is interpreted. ‘Other toys’ could refer to every object regarded as a toy or on the other hand it could refer to all other wheeled toys. The Golden Rule This rule is a modification of the literal rule looking at the literal meaning but then the court is allowed to avoid an interpretation which would lead to an absurd decision. There are two views showing how far this rule should be taken. The first rule is shown by Lord Reid’s comment in Jones v DPP (1962) when he said:

“It is a cardinal principle applicable to all kinds of statutes that you may not for any reason attach to a statutory provision a meaning which the words of that provision cannot reasonably bear. If they are capable of more then one meaning, then you can choose between those meaning, but beyond this you cannot go.”

The second and wider application of the golden rule is where the words have only one clear meaning, but that meaning would lead to a repugnant situation. In such a case the court will invoke the golden rule to modify the words of the statute in order to avoid this problem. This can be seen in the case of Re Sigsworth (1935) where the court was not prepared to let the defendant, a murderer, benefit for the crime he had committed so it was held that the literal rule should not apply and instead the golden rule was used to prevent the repugnant situation in the case. It is in the context of the golden rule that some academics have stated that the courts are said to have made certain presumptions that a wrongdoer should not be able to derive from their crime. Thus in the context of the Child Safety Act with regards to the fact that aside from the question of whether the pogo stick was intended to be included within the term ‘other toys’, the toy did in fact fail to be compliant with safety standards laid down by regulations therefore the shop should be prosecuted Mischief Rule This rules gives judges more discretion compared to the other two rules. Arising from the case of Haydon (1584). This rule is also known as the gap rule and is concerned when the words of an act are ambiguous, it allows the courts to take into account previous common law and identify what was the mischief that was not covered by the common law. Once identified it would be possible for courts to read the statute in the light of the mischief. The courts are also permitted to look at material outside the statute, e.g. reports. So in the light of the statute in question the defect in common law could be that there may have not been enough emphasis on the protection of children getting hurt whilst casually playing. The courts here would take into account the report published by the Institute of Casualty Consultants and their findings. There have been significant changes in judicial attitudes to statutory interpretation in the past two to three decades after the HL landmark decision in the case of Pepper v Hart [1993], the courts are now permitted in certain circumstances to consider parliamentary material Purposive Approach Here the judges are deciding what they believe Parliament meant to achieve. The champion of this approach in English law was Lord Denning in the case of Magor and St Mellons v Newport Corporation (1950):

“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.”

But many judges in the House of Lords have criticized Lord Denning’s view saying, if a gap is disclosed the remedy lies in an amending Act and if Parliament do say one thing but mean another it is not in the judges interest to correct it. Many questions arise therefore – should the judges refuse to follow the clear words of Parliament, how do they know what parliament’s intentions were? To apply this rule to the Act in hand, Child Safety Act 2003, the purpose or intention of parliament shall need to be enlightened first. Loosely, the protection of children from accidents occurring from the named “toys.” This may be able to shed light on the meaning of “other toys.” Any toy that can be harmful to children, or cause accidents due to the poor construction of the toy wheels. A pogo stick, for which the shop faces prosecution for, may be included under the category of “other toys” due to this reasoning above. Although it does not have “poorly constructed” wheels, it is still a toy, which can cause harm to children and therefore the shop was rightly prosecuted. It is important for judges to read the statute at hand as a whole and to read the words they are trying to interpret in the light of other parts of the Act which may explain or modify them.  The Ejusdem Generis Rule  is one application of this general rule. The rule here is that where general words follow particular words, the general words are to be restricted to things of the same kind as those, which are specified. An illustration of this can be seen in the case of Powell v Kempton Park Racecourse Company (1899) where the court were trying to decide whether an Tattersal Ring, an open air enclosure, came under “other places.” Other place were general words, “house, office” were the particular words. It was held that “other places” were indoor environment and therefore Tattersal’s Ring; an outdoor plain was not included under that category. Thus in the context of the Child Safety Act with regards to the above rule, “other toys” as stated by the act are general words whereas “skateboard, roller-skates, roller blades bicycle,” are particular words. The meaning of the general words has to be limited to something similar to the meaning of the particular word. A “pogo stick” therefore, although arguable, may not come under this category, as all the other particular words are “wheeled toys,” whereas a pogo stick does not have wheels. It would be helpful if there was one specific method of statutory interpretation that was always used in cases. At the moment it is entirely up to the individual judge who is hearing the case to use whichever rule or approach he wants. This can sometime make it hard for lawyers to advice on what meaning will be used on a disputed phrase of an Act of Parliament

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