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Rules of Statutory Interpretation - Essay Example

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After the parliament has passed an Act, it is upon the courts to apply the statute to a given case. As such, the judges are supposed to apply rules and approaches in the interpretation of the statute so as to ensure that the intention of a particular legislation is achieved…
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Rules of Statutory Interpretation
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Download file to see previous pages In order to find the intent and meaning of legislation, judges use various rules and approaches of statutory interpretation such as legislative history and the traditional statutory interpretation canons. The use of rules and approaches in statutory interpretation is necessary because of the following reasons: more often than not, words have more than one meaning; errors of omission or commission may have been committed during the drafting if the statute; words can prove to be imperfect means of communication; and, society may experience new developments that may render some words in the statute out-of-date since they can no longer cover contemporary situations.2 Rules and approaches to statutory interpretations have been developed by the judges; the Interpretation Act of 1978 provides basic definitions which are necessary during statutory interpretations.3 As a matter of fact, the main function of the courts is to interpret the Acts of Parliament; they have the role of attempting to establish the Parliament’s intention in passing of a particular Act and make a decision based on that intention. However, there is a view among legal scholars and practitioners that the rules and approaches that apply to statutory interpretation give too much latitude to the courts, and there seem to be no underpinning principles.4 It is in the light of this that this paper will focus on the rules and approaches that apply to statutory interpretation and discuss the validity of this view. In addition, it will consider the influence of the European Law in regard to this topic. As has been noted, the courts use rules and approaches in interpreting statutes. Conventionally, the judge will perform the following tasks during statutory interpretations: consider the legislative intent of the statute, objective meaning of the appropriate text, the traditional canons of the statutory interpretation, and the general purposes and policies behind the legislation among others.5 Based on those considerations, the court may determine how the statute could be interpreted to mean.6 However, the court may also determine that there is no sufficient reason to prefer one way of interpretation over the other. This is one of the reasons that make some legal scholars and practitioners to have the view that the rules and Approaches that apply to statutory interpretation give too much latitude to the courts.7 They argue that even though it is assumed that diligent application of these rules and approaches will enable the courts to be persuaded on which interpretation is legally preferable; in some cases the courts encounter frustrations while attempting to find the legally preferable interpretation of statutes. As a result, sometimes judges have to pretend that these rules and approaches have yielded decisive interpretation when in real sense they have not, a situation that encourages arbitrariness and obfuscation in making of judicial decisions.8 In order to effectively discuss the validity of the view that 'The Rules and Approaches that apply to statutory interpretation give too much latitude to the courts, and it seems there are no underpinning principles', it is important to understand what these rules and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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