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The most comprehensive coverage on the construction of Statutes. It includes parts of statutes,Extrinsic-Aids,Intrinsic aids, Reading down, Amendments,Repeals,codifications,Quasi-Judicial agencies,Non-obstante clause,Mandatory/Declatory provisions,Tax ,Beneficial, Criminal,Fiscal Statute's Interpretation and sub-ordinate legislations.Besides it contains the Rules of Interpretation and the Role of Judiciary.Citations are in abundance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Extrinsic Aids: An Introduction

External aids

Interpretation Act 1978

(This consolidated the 1889 Act and other Acts)




Writing=any other way of producing visible form.

Textbooks and eminent writers on law

Can be cited as authoritative statements of the law of their time, and therefore of the present law if it is shown not to have changed.

The reputation of the author and the date of the book are important.

The Institutes of the Laws of England by Sir Edward Coke and Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone. Importantly, these legal authorities are not law and, as such, their opinions are merely persuasive.

R v Shivpuri (1987)

A case on criminal attempts, the courts acknowledged academic argument as an aid to interpretation.

Other cases

Cases from any branch of law and from any jurisdiction are used by the courts to assist interpretation. So, in criminal manslaughter the courts used the civil case of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] to assist in deciding the scope of negligence, and in Re: A Children, they court used a Rabbinic judgment from New York.


Notably dictionaries of the time will be used to find out the meaning of a word in an Act.


Reports of law reform bodies, such as the Law Commission, and advisory committees

Which lead to the passing of the Act can be used to discover the reform, which the statute intended to make. These have become acceptable since the Black Clawson Case (1975).

White Papers

Occasionally reference will be made to discussion documents produced by the government even before a Bill has been drafted.

Such reference is found in
W v MPC [2006] on whether the word 'remove' meant a police officer or CSO could use force to take an under 16 year-old home from a 'dispersal area', they a said that it did.

In paragraph 31 the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) referred to White Paper to assist them decide the scope of the Act.

Historical setting

A judge may consider the historical setting of the provision that is being interpreted. Spath Holme (2000) spent considerable time doing precisely this.


The practice followed in the past may be a guide to interpretation. For example, the practice of eminent conveyancers where the technical meaning of a word or phrase used in conveyancing is in issue.


The official daily reports and debates in Parliament proceedings (named after the compiler for a long period) can be used as an external aid in statutory interpretation.

Davis v Johnson [1979] HL

Lord Denning;

‘… [not to use Hansard] would be to grope around in the dark for the meaning of an Act without switching the light on’.

Pickstone v Freemans (1988) HL

Hansard used to establish why the Equal Pay Act had been passed.

Pepper v Hart (1993) HL

Pepper v Hart concerned the construction of words in a Finance Act.

The House of Lords relaxed the old rule that excluded reference to Hansard for the purposes of statutory interpretation; so as to ensure that taxation was not imposed in a way that the Treasury had "assured" the House of Commons was not intended.

Hansard may be considered but only where the words of the Act are ambiguous or obscure or lead to an absurdity.

Even then, Hansard should only be used if there was a clear statement by the Minister introducing the legislation, which would resolve the ambiguity or absurdity.

Until Pepper v Hart using Hansard in that way would have been regarded as a breach of Parliamentary privilege.

R v SOS for the Environment ex parte Spath Holme (2000) HL

[Pepper v Hart merely provides a limited exception to the general rule that resort to Hansard is inadmissible]

The Rent Acts (Maximum Fair Rent) Order 1999 was made under section 31 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

One question was whether section 31 gave the ministers power to make the Order and in what circumstances. The Act may have been past to control inflation which was not now such a pressing problem.

The Order restricted the ability of landlords to increase their tenants’ rent. Spath Holme was a landlord and challenged the legality of the Order, because the statute was not clear.

Other aids

Travaux Preparatoires

Original International Conventions and preparatory material can be used, following the case of Fothergill v Monarch Airlines (1980)


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