The subject of statutory interpretation is important because much of New Zealand law is contained in the statute books and because the majority of legal issues that come before the courts involve statutory interpretation .Professor John Burrows "The Changing Approach to the Interpretation of Statutes"
[In 1996, sixty-four percent of cases in the Court of Appeal involved statutory interpretation . See Jane Allen " Statutory Interpretation and the Courts" (1999) 18 NZULR 439, 440. .] Issues of interpretation arise because the precise meaning of words is often uncertain. There is usually an inner core of meaning that all reasonable people would agree upon and also a vast world of meaning that is clearly not conveyed by the word. However, there is a murky area in between these two spheres where interpretation becomes more difficult. The case of Kecold Ltd v O'Brien [Kecold Ltd v O'Brien  3 NZLR 261 (CA).] illustrates the uncertainty at the outer edges of meaning. This case involved interpretation of the word "sick". The inner core of meaning of this word is clear. If a person has influenza, cancer or food poisoning, for example, their condition is clearly within the meaning of "sick". The Court of Appeal had to decide whether the word "sick" applied to a person who was injured.[ The Court concluded that the word "sick" in the context of the Holidays Act 1981 could apply to a person who was injured.]
It is thus important to understand that the meaning may or may no be exactly the prdinarily used word. The US Courts use the expressions that are in the Statutes as the following citations would show.[Blogger]
Approach Adopted By US Courts
When the meaning of specific statutory language is at issue, courts often need to consider the meaning of particular words or phrases. If the word or phrase is defined in the statute (federal statutes frequently collect definitions in a “definitions” section), or elsewhere in the United States Code,[The Dictionary Act, ch. 388, 61 Stat. 633 (1947), as amended, 1 U.S.C. §§ 1-6, has definitions of a few common terms used in federal statutes (e.g., “person,” “vessel,” and “vehicle”). These definitions govern in all federal statutes “unless the context indicates otherwise.” See Stewart v. Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U.S. 481, 489 (2005) (relying on Dictionary Act’s definition of “vessel”); Rowland v. California Men’s Colony, 506 U.S. 194 (1993) (context indicates otherwise; the term “person” as used in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) refers only to individuals and does not carry its Dictionary Act definition , which includes associations and artificial entities).] then that definition governs if applicable in the context used. [Colautti v. Franklin, 439 U.S. 379, 392 (1979). If the context indicates otherwise, i.e., if a mechanical application of a statutory definition throughout a statute would create an “obvious incongruity” or frustrate an evident statutory purpose for a particular provision, then it is permissible to depart from the definition. Lawson v. Suwannee S.S. Co., 336 U.S. 198, 201 (1949). But, as noted below, a term appearing in several places in a statute is ordinarily interpreted as having the same meaning each time it appears. See section on “Same Phrasing in Same or Related Statutes,”] Even if the word or phrase is not defined by statute, it may have an accepted meaning in the area of law addressed by the statute [See, e.g., Sullivan v. Stroop, 496 U.S. 478, 483 (1990) (phrase “child support” as used in Title IV AFDC provisions of Social Security Act). Note also that “where a phrase in a statute appears to have become a term of art . . . , any attempt to break down the term into its constituent words is not apt to illuminate its meaning.”], it may have been borrowed from another statute under which it had an accepted meaning,[ In appropriate circumstances, courts will assume that “adoption of the wording of a statute from another legislative jurisdiction carries with it the previous judicial interpretations of the wording.” Carolene Products Co. v. United States, 323 U.S. 18, 26 (1944) (finding, however, that circumstances were inappropriate for reliance on the principle). For the presumption to operate, the previous judicial interpretations must have been “known and settled.” Capital Traction Co. v. Hof, 174 U.S. 1, 36 (1899). See also Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298, 310 (1957) (in the absence of legislative history indicating that decisions of lower state courts were called to Congress’ attention, Court “should not assume that Congress was aware of them”). Variations in statutory wording may also refute the suggestion that Congress borrowed an interpretation. Shannon v. United States, 512 U.S. 573, 581 (1994) (Congress did not borrow the terms of the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984 from the District of Columbia Code).] or it may have had an accepted and specialized meaning at common law[See, e.g., Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 490 U.S. 730, 739-40 (1989) (relying on traditional common law agency principles for meaning of term “employee” as used without definition in the Copyright Act). See also Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Darden, 503 U.S. 318, 323 (1992) (following the same course after finding ERISA’s “circular” definition of “employee” to be useless); Clackamas Gastroenterology Assocs., P.C. v. Wells, 538 U.S. 440, 444 (2003) (same construction of similarly “circular” definition of “employee” in ADA).]. In each of these situations the accepted meaning governs“[W]here a common law principle is well established, . . . the courts may take it as a given that Congress has legislated with an expectation that the principle will apply except ‘when a statutory purpose to the contrary is evident.’” Astoria Federal Savings & Loan Ass’n v. Solimino, 501 U.S. 104, 108 (1991) (quoting Isbrandtsen Co. v. Johnson, 343 U.S. 779, 783 (1952)). No clear statement rule is required, however, in order to establish an “evident” contrary purpose. 501 U.S. at 108] and the word or phrase is considered a technical term or “term of art.” Justice Jackson explained why this reliance is appropriate: [Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 263 (1952). See also Miles v. Apex Marine Corp., 498 U.S. 19, 32 (1990) (“We assume that Congress is aware of existing law when it passes legislation”).][W]here Congress borrows terms of art in which are accumulated the legal tradition and meaning of centuries of practice, it presumably knows and adopts the cluster of ideas that were attached to each borrowed word in the body of learning from which it was taken and the meaning its use will convey to the judicial mind unless otherwise instructed. In such a case, absence of contrary direction may be taken as satisfaction with widely accepted definitions, not as departure from them.
Order Code 97-589,Statutory Interpretation:General Principles and Recent Trends ,Updated August 31, 2008,Yule Kim,Legislative Attorney,American Law,Statutory Interpretation:,General Principles and Recent Trends