Aids to Statutory Interpretation - Social Sciences
Aids to Statutory Interpretation Internal/External Intrinsic/Extrinsic What do these words mean? Internal/Intrinsic Aids These are found in the Act itself The long and/or short title of the Act Abortion Act 1967 long title is An Act to amend and clarify the law relating to termination of pregnancy by registered medical practitioners referred to by Judges in Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom v DHSS The preamble (if there is one) older acts have a detailed preamble outlining what the statute covered and its purpose. Newer acts may contain an objectives
or purposes section Marginal Notes and headings some sections of the Act may have headings and marginal notes, usually added by the person drafting the Act R v Tivnan used marginal notes for clarification Interpretation Sections most acts now contain these. E.g. S.10 Theft Act 1968 refers to the use of a weapon of offence in aggravated burglary, then defines it as any article made or adapted for use for causing injury. Schedules many acts contain these at the end of an Act and include more detailed clarification. E.g. S.2(1) Hunting Act 2004 Hunting is exempt if it is within a class specified in Schedule 1. Schedule 1 then specifies the exempt classes of hunting Advantages of Internal/Intrinsic Aids
It is more respectful of Parliament to look elsewhere in the Act rather than outside the Act respects the authority of Parliament in law-making It is quick and easy to look at things like marginal notes, which were helpful in Tivnan or the long title used in Cornwall CC v Baker Some internal aids like interpretation sections and Schedules are designed to provide definitions and explanations, so it is common sense to look at them e.g. S.10 Theft Act explained the meaning of weapon of offence Disadvantages of Internal/Intrinsic Aids Most problems with wording are not likely to be
solved by looking elsewhere in the Act, especially if the words are ambiguous as in Allen or very plain but wrong as in Whitely and Chappell Internal aids alone are unlikely to be sufficient and if judges were not allowed to refer to anything outside the Act it would be more difficult for them to avoid unfair or absurd decisions External/Extrinsic Aids These are found outside the Act Dictionaries of various kinds e.g. Vaughan v Vaughan - a man had been pestering his ex-wife and Court used a dictionary to define molest and concluded the definition was wide enough to cover
his behaviour. E.g. Cheeseman dictionary was used to decide the meaning of passengers Previous Acts of Parliament and earlier Case Law Royal Derby Porcelain Co. Ltd. V Raymond Russell when consider the Rent and Mortgage Act 1933 court interpreted the words used in the Act by referring to similar words used in an earlier Act and to the way these were interpreted in cases Reference to Hansard (the official report of the proceedings in Parliament) until 1990, courts were not allowed to refer to Hansard in order to find out Parliaments intention. This was overturned in Pepper v Hart, however use is restricted to cases where the words of an Act are ambiguous or obscure or lead to an absurdity. Even then, only where there is a clear statement by the minister introducing the legislation that would resolve the doubt Wider use of Hansard only permitted if the legislation in question has introduced an international convention or European directive into English law Law reform reports from bodies such as the Law Commission International Treaties Fothergill v Monarch Airlines Ltd confirmed that background working papers could be used to ascertain the meaning of an ambiguous or doubtful section of an Act based
on an international treaty Explanatory Notes since 1999, all government Bills are accompanied by explanatory notes which provide guidance on complex parts of the Bill Interpretation Act 1978 - provides definition of certain words often used in Acts e.g. masculine to include feminine. Advantages of External/Extrinsic Aids Using a dictionary is quick and easy, as in Cheeseman and Vaughan Using Hansard might clarify what Parliament meant. Davis v Johnson - Lord Denning said that not to use it would be like groping around in the dark without putting the light on Europe allows background papers to be used so it is
sensible for English courts to use them when Acts are based on international rules, as in Fothergill v Monarch Airlines Disadvantages of External/Extrinsic Aids Using Hansard may not reveal what Parliament as a whole intended. Pepper v Hart restricts the courts to considering what ministers said, but Parliament may have decided not to follow the ministers view. What the minister said may not be clear Deegan court ruled that Hansard couldnt be used because what the minister said was not clear. Lord Bingham said if the statement is unclear, the courts would be tempted to compare one statement with another and run the risk of questioning proceedings in Parliament, which
constitutionally they are not allowed to do Danger of treating materials that are not part of the Act as having the same status as the Act and therefore undermining the authority of Parliament. This is the main objection to using external aids, particularly those other than dictionaries which are less objectionable
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