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What is statutory construction - Essay Example

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The Right Honourable Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice made this declaration during his speech at the Dinner for the Judges at the Mansion House. His words sum up the courts’ sentiments when it comes to the issue of statutory interpretation…
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Download file to see previous pages The Right Honourable Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice made this declaration during his speech at the Dinner for the Judges at the Mansion House. His words sum up the courts’ sentiments when it comes to the issue of statutory interpretation. Apparently, among the powers bestowed by the constitution of the United Kingdom unto the judicial branch, the power to interpret laws is the most difficult which the courts exercise with utmost care and caution. Indeed, when an ambiguous Act of Parliament is brought before the court for interpretation, the court is caught between the crossfire of two opposing parties, each wanting for the law to be interpreted in such a way that would favor their interests. However, unlike regular legal battles where the court’s powers are limited to the application of the laws, in the case of statutory construction, the courts are toeing the line between judicial and legislative powers. There are no clear laws to be applied. The courts first need to ascertain what the law is and then apply it to a case before it. The courts need to fathom the spirit and purpose of the law as the Parliament has intended it to be without asking the legislators what the law means. Rather, the courts rely on established principles in trying to determine the intent of the legislators.
In the exercise of its interpretive powers, the courts are governed by established principles of statutory interpretation

Medical terms must be given and understood within the context of medicine and economic terms must be understood in the same way that economists understand it. The second principle is the pro bono publico. Under this rule, the courts always interpret the law in such a way that it would serve the public good. The courts weigh which of the possible interpretations of a given legislation shall best serve the public good and those that fail this criterion are dismissed. Here, the system of check and balance is at work. When the Parliament passes an ambiguous legislation, the courts ensure that the Acts of Parliament are applied and enforced for the greater and public good. The third principle is called in pari materia. This principle literally translates as “on the like matter”. This rule is basically used when the purpose of the legislation being construed is ambiguous. Pursuant to this rule, the courts are entitled to seek reference to earlier legislations that deal with similar matters in order to unveil the true nature and purpose of the later Act of Parliament. Another important principle in statutory construction is the mischief rule. This rule is commonly applied to legislations that amend or revise prior Acts of Parliament that have been found to have some defects or mischief. Under this rule, when the curative legislation is written in such a way that its purpose is rendered ambiguous, the courts interpret it as having the intention of curing or removing the defect in the prior legislation. No other interpretation shall be given except that it is intended to cure the defect or mischief of the law stated in its purpose in the first place. The next principle in statutory construction is the literal rule basically mandates the courts to use the literal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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