What Is Statutory Interpretation

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Statutory interpretation may be required when the meaning of the legislation enacted by the Parliament is unclear. This may occur due to many reasons such as; legislation failing to consider a specific point, a broad term being used to cover numerous possibilities , ambiguity, a drafting error, new technological developments, and changes in the use of language over time. In this essay I will attempt to answer whether statutory interpretation gives unelected judges unprecedented power to determine the meaning of words in legislation enacted by the democratically elected parliament.

Over the years judges have developed approaches and rules of interpretation as guidelines in determining the meaning of the Acts of Parliament; the literal rule (approach), the golden rule, the
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Under the literal rule words will be given a plain and ordinary meaning. This can be illustrated in the case of Whiteley v Chappell [1868] 4 LR QB 147 in which the defendant was charged under a statue that made it an offence 'to impersonate any person entitled to vote’ and was acquitted due to the fact that the person whose name he had used died and thus was not entitled to vote. The main advantage of the rule is that it maintains the separation of power between the legislature and the judiciary by restricting the role of judges in law making. In addition it enables the prevention of power abuse and ensures that the parliamentary sovereignty is respected. However the criticism is that it will often lead to absurdity and unjust results like in the case of Whiteley v Chappell [1868] 4 LR QB 147 described before. As well as in the case of London & North Eastern Railway Co v Berriman [1946] 1 All ER in which a railway worker oiling the

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