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Table Contents

1.

INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................... 1

2.

MEANING AND CLASSIFICATION OF STATUTES.....................................................2

3.

CLASSIFICATION OF STATUTES.............................................................................2
i.

Duration............................................................................................................ 2

ii.

Nature of operation........................................................................................... 2

iii. Object............................................................................................................... 3
4.

INTERPRETING THE STATUTES.............................................................................. 4

5.

PRESUMPTIONS IN STATUTORY INTERPRETATION.................................................5

6.

RULES AND AIDS OF INTERPRETATION.................................................................6


i.

Rules of Interpretation...................................................................................... 6

ii.

Aids of Interpretation........................................................................................ 6
a.

Primary Rules of Statutory Interpretation......................................................7

i.

The Literal Rule.............................................................................................. 7

ii.

The Golden Rule............................................................................................. 7

iii. The Mischief Rule........................................................................................... 7


iv. The Purposive Approach................................................................................7
b.

Secondary Rules of Statutory Interpretation..................................................7

i.

Noscitur a sociis............................................................................................. 7

ii.

The ejusdem generis rule (Of the same class).............................................8

c.

Extrinsic Aids to Interpretation......................................................................8

7.

CONCLUSION........................................................................................................ 9

8.

Bibliography....................................................................................................... 10

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1 INTRODUCTION
the essence of law lies in the spirit, not its letter, for the letter is significant only as
being the external manifestation of the intention that underlies it - Salmond

Interpretation means the art of finding out the true sense of an enactment by
giving the words of the enactment their natural and ordinary meaning. It is
the process of ascertaining the true meaning of the words used in a statute.
The Court is not expected to interpret arbitrarily and therefore there have
been certain principles which have evolved out of the continuous exercise by
the Courts. These principles are sometimes called rules of interpretation.
The object of interpretation of statutes is to determine the intention of the
legislature conveyed expressly or impliedly in the language used. As stated
by SALMOND, "by interpretation or construction is meant, the process by
which the courts seek to ascertain the meaning of the legislature through the
medium of authoritative forms in which it is expressed."

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1. MEANING AND CLASSIFICATION OF STATUTES


1. A Statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority
that governs a country, state, city, or county. Typically, statutes
command or prohibit something, or declare policy.
2. A statute is a will of legislature conveyed in the form of text.

2. CLASSIFICATION OF STATUTES
i.

Duration
a. Perpetual statutes - It is perpetual when no time is fixed for its
duration and such a statute remains in force until its repeal
which may be express or implied.
b. Temporary statutes - A statute is temporary when its duration is
only for a specified time and it expires on the expiry of the
specified time unless it is repealed earlier.

ii.

Nature of operation
a. Prospective statutes A statute which operates upon acts and
transactions which have not occurred when the statutes takes
effect, that is which regulates the future is a Prospective statute.
b. Retrospective statutes Every statute takes away or impairs
vested rights acquired under the existing laws or creates a new
obligation into a new duty or attaches a new disability in respect
of transactions or considerations already passed are deemed
retrospective or retroactive statute.
c. Directory statutes A directory statute is generally affirmative in
its terms, recommends a certain act or omissions, but imposes

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no penalty on non-observance of its provisions.


d. Mandatory statutes A Mandatory statute is one which compels
performance of certain acts and directs that a certain thing must
be done in a certain manner or form.
iii.

Object
a. Enabling statutes These statutes are which enlarges the
common law where it is too strict or narrow. It is a statute which
makes it lawful to do something which would not otherwise be
lawful.
b. Permissive statute This type of statute allows certain acts to be
done without commanding that they be performed.
c. Prohibitory statute This type of statute which forbids the doing
of certain things.
d. Codifying Statute It presents and orderly and authoritative
statement of the leading rules of law on a given subject, whether
those rules are to be found in statute law or common law.
e. Consolidating statute The purpose of consolidating statute is to
present the whole body of statutory law on a subject in complete
form repeating the former statute.
f. Curative or validating Statute - It is passed to cure defects in the
prior law and too validate legal proceedings, instruments or acts
of public and private administrative powers which in the absence
of such statute would be void for want of conformity with existing
legal requirements but which would have been valid if the
statute has so provided at the time of enacting.
g. Repealing Statute A statute which either expressly or by
necessary implication revokes or terminates another statute is a
repealing statute.
h. Amending Statute It is a Statute which makes and addition to
or operates to change the original law so as to effect an

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improvement or more effectively carry out the purpose for which


the original law was passed.

3. INTERPRETING THE STATUTES


Interpretation of statute is the process of ascertaining the true meaning of
the words used in a statute. When the language of the statute is clear, there
is no need for the rules of interpretation. But, in certain cases, more than
one meaning may be derived from the same word or sentence. It is
therefore necessary to interpret the statute to find out the real intention of
the statute.
We can say, interpretation of Statutes is required for two basic reasons
viz. to ascertain:
Legislative Language - Legislative language may be complicated
for a layman, and hence may require interpretation

Legislative Intent - The intention of legislature or Legislative


intent assimilates two aspects:
a. the concept of meaning, i.e., what the word means; and
b. the concept of purpose and object or the reason or spirit
pervading through the statute.
Necessity of interpretation would arise only where the language of a
statutory provision is ambiguous, not clear or where two views are
possible or where the provision gives a different meaning defeating the
object of the statute.
The purpose of Interpretation of Statutes is to help the Judge to ascertain
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the intention of the Legislature not to control that intention or to confine it


within the limits, which the Judge may deem reasonable or expedient.
Some Important points to remember in the context of interpreting Statutes:
Statute must be read as a whole in Context
2. Statute should be Construed so as to make it Effective and Workable if statutory provision is ambiguous and capable of various
constructions, then that construction must be adopted which will give
meaning and effect to the other provisions of the enactment rather
than that which will give none.
The process of construction combines both the literal and purposive
approaches. The purposive construction rule highlights that you
should shift from literal construction when it leads to absurdity.

4. PRESUMPTIONS IN STATUTORY
INTERPRETATION
Unless the statute contains express words to the contrary it is assumed that
the following presumptions of statutory interpretation apply, each of which
may be rebutted by contrary evidence.
Presumptions

represent

the

accepted

judicial

view

of

range

of

circumstances that have been predetermined to be the way in which every


manifestation of those circumstances will be viewed, until any evidence to
the contrary is produced. These tend to arise from theoretical and practical
principles of the law.

A statute does not alter the existing common law. If a statute is


capable of two interpretations, one involving alteration of the common
law and the other one not, the latter interpretation is to be preferred.

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If a statute deprives a person of his property, say by nationalization, he


is to be compensated for its value.

A statute is not intended to deprive a person of his liberty. If it does so,


clear words must be used. This is relevant in legislation covering, for
example, mental health and immigration.

A statute does not have retrospective effect to a date earlier than its
becoming law.

A statute generally has effect only in the country enacted. However a


statute does not run counter to international law and should be
interpreted so as to give effect to international obligations.

A statute cannot impose criminal liability without proof of guilty


intention. Many modern statutes rebut this presumption by imposing
strict liability; for e.g. -dangerous driving.

7. A statute does not repeal other statutes. Any point on which the
statute leaves a gap or omission is outside the scope of the statute.

5. RULES AND AIDS OF INTERPRETATION


i

Rules of Interpretation

A Rule is a uniform or established course of things. It is that which is prescribed


or laid down as a guide for conduct or action; a governing direction for a
specific purpose; an authoritative enactment; a regulation; a prescription; a
precept; as, the rules of various societies; the rules governing a school; a rule
of etiquette or propriety etc.

iv.

Aids of Interpretation

An Aid, on the other hand is a device that helps or assists. For the
purpose of construction or interpretation, the court has to take recourse
to various internal and external aids.
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These principles can be divided into 4 categories:


1. Primary Rules
2. Secondary Rules
3. Extrinsic Aids
4. Presumptions
a. Primary Rules of Statutory Interpretation
i. The Literal Rule
The literal rule requires the courts to give the words of a statute
their plain meaning. It is for a court to interpret Parliaments
intention from what it has actually said not from what it thinks
it meant to say.
ii. The Golden Rule
The Golden Rule is an extension of the Literal Rule. It allows the
court to depart from the Literal Rule where this would produce an
obviously absurd result.
iii. The Mischief Rule
The Mischief Rule can be applied by the courts to resolve an
ambiguity which is produced by the application of the Literal
Rule. It involves asking what mischief in the common law, was
intended to be corrected by the statute. The court then applies
the interpretation which is consistent with correcting the
mischief.
iv. The Purposive Approach
The Purposive Approach to statutory interpretation can be seen
as an extension of the Mischief Rule. Instead of confining itself
simply to the mischief which the statute was intended to correct,
the court resolves ambiguities by reference to the statutes
overall purpose.

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b. Secondary Rules of Statutory Interpretation


The secondary rules are concerned, less with the overall approach to
interpretation, and more with the precise application and structure of
language within the statute. They are therefore sometimes described
as rules of language or intrinsic aids to interpretation.
i. Noscitur a sociis
(The meaning of a word can be gathered from its context.)
Individual words or sections should not be interpreted in isolation
but in the context of the whole statute.
All parts of the Act can be referred to in this context, including
the long and short title, the preamble (if any), the definition
section as well as section headings and marginal notes.
ii. The ejusdem generis rule (Of the same class)
Where general words follow particular words, the general words
are construed as being limited to the subject matter of the class
outlined by the particular words.
c. Extrinsic Aids to Interpretation
Extrinsic aids to interpretation are those which come from outside the statute
which is being interpreted. They include the following:
a) Dictionaries
b) Other Statutes
c) Judicial Precedent: Where a court has previously made a decision on
the interpretation of the statutory provision being considered, this
decision will be binding under the doctrine of judicial precedent.
d) Pre-Parliamentary Materials: Courts may have recourse to official
publications that precede and form the basis for legislation, including:
Government White Papers
Royal Commission Reports
Law Commission Reports
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Criminal Law Revision Committee Reports


e) Post-Parliamentary Materials: The courts may refer to guidance
published by government departments about the implementation of
legislation in interpreting its meaning.

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6. CONCLUSION
It would be unqualified to say the rules are without their imperfections, it is
clear from the case law under the literal rule that this application can cause
absurd and highly unjust results. As evident under the golden rule, the
interpretation of a phrase or words absurdity may not coincide with the views
of others and again can directly affect the outcome of a case dependant on
the judges own view. And finally, the mischief rule, although easily applied
to statutes to gain a more appropriate outcome, it may not be clear what the
original draftsmans intentions were and thereby interferes with exactly what
the enactment was set to remedy.
It would be unwise to consider the three significant rules to be 100%
consistent, however in spite of their minor imperfections; the rules provide a
coherent and continuous framework for courts to work from when
interpreting statutes to achieve the best possible outcome of a case.

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7. Bibliography
1. Owens, K., & Owens, K. (2001). Law for non-law students (3rd ed.). London:
Cavendish.
2. Card, R., & Murdoch, J. (1990). Law for estate management students (3rd ed.).
London: Butterworths.
3. Chynoweth, P. (2007). Law in the built environment. Bradford, England:
Emerald.
4. Berkeley Law Scholarship Repository. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2015, from
http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/facpubs/1533

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