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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

Parts of statute: As Intrinsic Aids

Intrinsic are Internal Aids that are within the statute itself

Enacting words

The basic rule of interpretation is to read the statute as a whole. An examination of the whole of a statute, is to be treated as a whole and the entire reading provides an understanding of the object or the purpose of the statute and the basic idea is to derive the intent of the legislature. It may show that a particular interpretation of that provision will lead to absurdity when taken with another section. The words of the statute speaks the intention or the object of the Act. The words are to be read to derive the purpose of the Act and the provisions are to be analysed and constructed accordingly i.e. the words show the intent.

Explanatory notes as an aid to interpretation

The use in interpretation of explanatory memoranda published with Bills is accepted by the courts. In Maher v Attorney General the Supreme Court considered the explanatory memorandum published with the Road Traffic Act, 1968. The memorandum contained the important information that the legislation was intended to accept the main import of the recommendations of a government commission on driving under the influence of alcohol. Again, in Rowe v LawO'Higgins CJ in the Supreme Court considered the explanatory memorandum published with the Bill which later became the Succession Act, 1965 , in interpreting section 90 of that Act.
McLoughlin v The Minister for the Public Service the Supreme Court looked to the explanatory memorandum published on the introduction into the Dáil of the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Act, 1941 . The court declined to interpret the Act in such as way as to defeat the purpose of the Act as declared in the explanatory memorandum.
An explanatory note to regulations was considered in the High Court in
MacGabhann v The Incorporated Law Society. Blayney J referred to the explanatory note to the Solicitors Act, 1954 (Apprenticeship and Education) (Amendment No 1) Regulations, 1974 to ascertain the legislative intent in relation to exemption from law society examinations.

Statutory Drafting and Interpretation, Consultation Paper on: Plain Language and the Law (LRC CP14-1999) [1999] IELRC 1 (1st July, 1999)

Some Acts have their own interpretation sections

"Personal chattels" mean carriages, horses, stable furniture and effects...

Provides a definition of theft and subsequent sections interpret the definition. E.g. ‘property’...etc.Thus special enactments may have their definition clauses to explain the meaning of the words employed in the statute. There are two clear rules about the wordings of statutes:

1. The 'same word same meaning rule'. According to this rule if there is usage of the word at more than one place in the Statute ,it should be treated with consistency i.e. the word should mean the same in the entire statute.

2.The second rule that has been well recognized all over is ,if the word employed in the statute has been already considered by the courts and judicial pronouncement has been received by the word then it should be presumed that the legislature intends to assign the same meaning to the word. However, the context of the usage of the word is reliable for such interpretation.

Aids found in all Acts

Long title

It became established in the nineteenth century that the long title could be considered as an aid to interpretation. The long title should be read as part of the context, "as the plainest of all the guides to the general objectives of a statute" (Lord Simon in The Black-Clawson Case [1975]).


When there is a preamble it is generally in its recitals that the mischief to be remedied and the scope of the Act are described. It is therefore clearly permissible to have recourse to it as an aid to construing the enacting provisions.

Preambles ceased to be used in the nineteenth century, except in private Acts.

Short title

There is some question whether the short title should be used to resolve doubt.

Headings, side-notes

Under the present law, as set out in the Interpretation Act, 1937 , courts are excluded from examining the marginal notes, headings and other similar elements of an Act in the interpretation of one of its provisions. Section 11 (g) states:

"No marginal note placed at the side of any section or provision to indicate the subject, contents, or effect of such section or provision and no heading or cross-line placed at the head or beginning of a Part, section or provision or a group of sections or provisions to indicate the subject, contents or effect of such Part, section, provision or group shall be taken to be part of the Act or instrument or be considered or judicially noticed in relation to the construction or interpretation of the Act or instrument or any portion thereof".

Although the courts are precluded from relying on marginal notes in interpreting legislation, they have frequently made passing reference to the content of marginal notes, suggesting that marginal notes would be of assistance to the courts in establishing the context of a provision.

Statutory Drafting and Interpretation, Consultation Paper on: Plain Language and the Law (LRC CP14-1999) [1999] IELRC 1 (1st July, 1999)


Not used in older statutes. See the story of Sir Roger Casement, hanged because of a comma, here.

DPP v Schildkamp (1971)

Punctuation could be used as aids in cases of ambiguity as could the long title of the Act, headings and side note.

Hanlon v Law Society (1981)

Lord Lowry;

"To ignore punctuation disregards the reality that literate people, such as parliamentary draftsmen, do punctuate what they write."

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