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Statutory Interpretation Business Law Assignment - Essay Example

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Name: Institution: Subject: Date Statutory Interpretation Traditionally, the arms of government have had their functions defined: the legislature makes law; the executive implements it while the judiciary interprets it. To date, there has not been much change to this allocation of power to the three arms save for the common call for further separation of powers…
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Download file to see previous pages Since statutes are presented in written form, it is within the court’s power to translate the written word into the actionable form of law i.e. known as breathing life to the law. However, due to the complexities of language and the imperfect nature of legislation, sometimes the intention or purpose of the law may not be conveniently passed in the wordings of the various Acts. This is where the courts derive their power; ensuring that the intention of Parliament is carried into the law. The power of the court to interpret statutes i.e. statutory interpretation has generated controversy for as long as Parliament has been in existence. This is because of the subjective nature of interpretation which relies heavily on the beliefs and understanding of the presiding judge. Over time, judges have been accused of usurping the role of Parliament and ‘making law’ by giving interpretation to statutes in a manner that suits their version of the law. Lord Denning himself once drew criticism in Magor and St Mellons v Newport Borough Council (1952) HL when he remarked that 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 (pg. 25). While he well intended to maintain Parliament’s supremacy by attempting to interpret acts based on its intention, he went a bit overboard by suggested that the courts could ‘fill in the gaps’ in the law which in itself would be tantamount to making law. On appeal to the House of Lords, Lord Simonds described Denning’s interpretation of the powers of the courts as a “naked usurpation of the legislative function under the thin guise of interpretation.” The House of Lords instead stated that gaps disclosed in laws can only be remedied through appeals. The extent of the judicature’s power to interpret law remains blurred which is a major reason judges have often been accused of making law; a role not within their mandate. In Fischer v Bell (1961) and Stock v. Frank Jones (Tipton) Ltd. [1978] 1 WLR 231, the interpretation of the courts of statutes was so distasteful to Parliament that the rulings themselves were overturned through statutes in the same year they were made. This shows that the powers of interpretation are sometimes abused as judges attempt to ‘redefine’ statutes which in their opinion are ambiguous, unfair or unjust. Over the years, several rules of interpretation have come up all in an attempt to guide the courts in the correct usage of their power or in a manner respectful of the separation of powers doctrine. Despite these rules, Twining and Miers (2010) state that over 50 percent of High Court cases and 90 percent of cases before the House of Lords involve aspects of interpretation of the law. Since the court’s interpretation of the law determines how they apply it e.g. in criminal law for purposes of sentencing, the interpretation of the law continues to be a major cause of appeals and a major driving force for litigation. At this juncture, it is necessary to state that the courts may have powers to apply the law; this power is merely incidental to the interpretation that the court makes of the pertinent law. In fact, this power is often ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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