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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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

When To Depart from Ordinary or Plain Meaning Rule

It is a long standing presumption that Parliament does not want any absurd results from the operation of any statute. We derive interpretive rules accordingly.[blogger]
It is a well long-established principles of statutory interpretation, the courts will often imply qualifications into the literal meaning of wide and general words in order to prevent them having some unreasonable consequence which Parliament could not have intended. He cites such compelling authority as Stradling v Morgan (1560) 1 Plow 199; R (Edison First Power Limited) v Central Valuation Officer [2003] UKHL 20, [2003] 4 All ER 209, para 25; R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex p Pierson [1998] AC 539, 573-575, 588; R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex p Simms [2000] 2 AC 115, 131; and R (Morgan Grenfell & Co Ltd) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax [2003] 1 AC 563, paras 8, 44-45.
"that general words such as section 2(1) should not be read as authorising the doing of acts which adversely affect the basic principles on which the law of the United Kingdom is based in the absence of clear words authorising such acts. There is no more fundamental principle of law in the UK than the identity of the sovereign body. Section 2(1) should not be read as modifying the identity of the sovereign body unless its language admits of no other interpretation". Jackson & Ors v. Her Majesty's Attorney General [2005] UKHL 56 (13 October 2005) 

The propriety of departing from the literal interpretation extends to any situation in which for good reason the operation of the statute on a literal reading does not conform to the legislative intent as ascertained from the provisions of the statute, including the policy which may be discerned from those provision."[ Cooper Brookes (Wollongong) Pty Limited v Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1981) 147 CLR]
The departure from the plain meaning or Literal meaning may be undertaken in case where the object of the statute is clear and there is some degree of uncertainty about the literal meaning.[blogger]

"Of course it is true that the words used, even in their literal sense, are the primary, and ordinarily the most reliable, source of interpreting the meaning of any writing: be it a statute, a contract or anything else. But it is one of the surest indexes of a mature developed jurisprudence not to make a fortress out of the dictionary; but to remember that statutes always have some purpose or object to accomplish, whose sympathetic and imaginative discovery is the surest guide to their meaning."

We have a second situation where we have to depart from the plain meaning approach as it is stated the words may not have plain meaning alway.It is also clear from the following citation that words may not have plain meaning.[Blogger]

"Over the long history of the common law there have been fluctuations in the degree of emphasis which the Courts have given to a literal interpretation of words on the one hand, and the context, subject matter and purpose of legislation on the other hand. We are now in an era where the latter is more frequently determinative than may have been the case until a decade or two ago. This is particularly the case with respect to the construction of general words. Those who would strictly apply a "plain meaning" rule have to recognise that general words do not necessarily have a "plain meaning".[ Maunsell v Olins, above nl, at 385-386 per Lord Wilberforce]
One of the important derivations of the rulings of the court will help us in stating the use of literal rule. One may deviate from the normal rule of interpretation if the meaning is clear and is not subject of discussion or any form of confusion. The literal rule for statutory interpretation is not applicable and the terms must be given the ordinary meanings ascribed thereto in dictionaries, including medical and legal dictionaries, where applicable.The following was observed in regard to the that has been stated in these lines.[Blogger]
"The Act does not define “permanent impairment” beyond the noted reference in s. 153 to a “permanent anatomical deficit”. The Regulations are also silent beyond confirming in s. 36 that compensation for permanent impairment is to be determined on the basis of Appendix B. In turn, Appendix B does not specifically address conditions akin to those suffered by the claimant, save as noted above. Thus, the literal rule for statutory interpretation is not applicable and the aforementioned terms must be given the ordinary meanings ascribed thereto in dictionaries, including medical and legal dictionaries, where applicable.
[See: Pierre-André Côté, The Interpretation of Legislation in Canada, 2d ed. (Cowansville: Les Éditions Yvon Blais Inc., 1991), at 219 and 237.] The court referred to The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973),Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, 26th ed. (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1995) and  Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed. (St. Paul, Minn.: West Group, 1999) to arrive at the meaning of ‘permanent disability’]"

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