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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Considering Act as a whole

In In re Bidie v General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation Ltd [1949] Ch 121 at 129-130 Lord Greene MR explained that:

"The first thing to be done ... in construing particular words in a section of an Act of Parliament is not to take those words in vacuo, so to speak, and attribute to them what is sometimes called their natural or ordinary meaning. Few words in the English language have a natural or ordinary meaning in the sense that their meaning is entirely independent of their context. The method of construing statutes that I myself prefer is not to take out particular words and attribute to them a sort of prima facie meaning which may have to be displaced or modified, it is to read the statute as a whole and ask myself the question: `In this statute, in this context, relating to this subject-matter, what is the true meaning of that word?' ... The real question that we have to decide is, what does the word mean in the context in which we here find it, both in the immediate context of the sub-section in which the word occurs and in the general context of the Act, having regard to the declared intention of the Act and the obvious evil that it is designed to remedy."
“As a matter of statutory construction, it was necessary to read the statutes as a whole  and to determine whether the legislature intended that steps ….”[Cited from para-10:Ahearn v State of New South Wales Department of Gaming and Racing [2004] NSWIRComm 40 (8 March 2004) 16.05.2010]
There are many other citations that clearly states the proposition that the statute must be read as a whole:
 "It is one of the important cannons of construction that entire statute should be read as a whole treating the parts as parts of a unified whole as there is inherent presumption that there is internal consistency and that the statute is presented in economic and organised manner.The following is cited from the Canadian Judgement.
"Background of the statute as a whole  were summarized the principles of interpretation of a statute as a whole:
[TRANSLATION] [I] t must respect the basic rule that no one can claim to have understood any part of any law or any other document before reading it in full . While she has not done, that person can not say that all or part of the law or document is clear and unambiguous. [ Attorney-General v. Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover , [1957] AC 436 (HL), at p. 463.]
 [T] he duty of a good interpreter of a law passed by Parliament is to interpret the various parts together, and not part separately; nemo enim aliquam partem recte intelligere posse, antequam totum iterum atque iterum perlegerit [. ..] and thus before our era laws have been interpreted by the elders, judges and other sages of the law. [ Lincoln College's Case (1595) 3 Co. Rep.. 58b, 76 ER 764, at p. 767.] [Emphasis added.]
207 The rule nemo enim aliquam partem recte intelligere posse, totum iterum atque iterum antequam perlegerit literally means no one can understand a part until you have read and reread all full . This rule is part of the common law for over 400 years and has been codified in Quebec, in respect of contracts, art.
1427the Civil Code of Quebec, SQ 1991, ch. 64 (formerly art. 1018 of the Civil Code of Lower Canada ). We must therefore read and reread all the law in full before deciding on the definition that we seek to establish. If necessary to understand the economics of law, we will even read and reread the regulations made thereunder. The underlying reason for the justification of the rule nemo intelligere possible antequam iterum perlegerit is as follows. It must be assumed that the law is consistent. The principle of internal coherence of the law is common law since the seventeenth century: Chamberlain's Case (1611), Lane 117, 145 ER 346 at p. 347 (J. Tanfield):
[TRANSLATION]... the meaning of an Act of Parliament should be interpreted by examining the intent of its drafters, freed of all its provisions, so as to ensure there is no inconsistency, but rather an agreement between all its parts ... [Emphasis added.]
208 I note that the modern expression of the principle of internal consistency, which is part of our law since the reformulation was that Lord Atkinson in the casev. City of Victoria Bishop of Vancouver Island , [1921] 2 AC 384 (PC), at p. 388, was re-enacted by this Court in The King v. Assessors of the Town of Sunny Brae 
1952 CanLII 34 (CSC) , [1952] 2 SCR 76, at p. 97
[TRANSLATION] In my opinion, the interpretation of a statute that produces such anomalies is contrary to well established rules of interpretation.
If possible, a statute must be construed "so that there is no inconsistency or conflict between its parts or components" ... [Emphasis added.]
209 According to Driedger on the Construction of Statutes op. cit. , p. 176, the presumption of internal consistency of a statute is virtually irrefutable:
 [TRANSLATION] The provisions of a statute are presumed to work together, both logically and teleologically, as parts of a whole. The parties are presumed to fit together logically to form a rational, internally consistent.
. The presumption of consistency is virtually irrefutable . [Emphasis added.]"
The above is summed up in the following: 
“As the product of a rational and logical legislature, the statute is considered to form a system. Every component contributes to the meaning as a whole, and the whole gives meaning to its parts: ‘each legal provision should be considered in relation to other provisions, as parts of a whole’ . . .”: Côté, at p. 308.  See also Dubois v. The Queen1985 CanLII 10 (S.C.C.), [1985] 2 S.C.R. 350, at p. 365.
"It is a familiar rule, that a thing may be within the letter of the statute and yet not within the statute, because not within its spirit, nor within the intention of its makers. This has often been asserted, and the reports are full of cases illustrating its application. This is not the substitution of the will of the judge for that of the legislator, for frequently words of general meaning are used in the statute, words broad enough to include an act in question, and yet a consideration of the whole legislation or of the circumstances surrounding its enactment, or of the absurd results which follow from giving such a broad meaning to the words, makes it unreasonable to believe that the legislator intended to include the particular Act".[ Church of the Holy Trinity v United States (1892) 143 US 457 at 459.]
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