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Statutory Interpretation: The Literal Rule
 

Statutory Interpretation: The Literal Rule

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    Statutory Interpretation: The Literal Rule Statutory Interpretation: The Literal Rule Presentation Transcript

    • T heLiter alRuleMemory Game
    • “ If the words of an Act are clear then you must follow themeven though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The court has nothing to do with the question whether the legislature has committed an absurdity ”
    • vFacts: A man owned a shop and had a flick knife on display in the shopwindow. Attempts were made to prosecute him for offering for saleoffensive weapons.Held: He was not offering the knife for sale it was simply an invitation totreat.
    • House vFacts: The defendant pretended to be someone who had recently died inorder to use that person’s vote. It was an offence to “personate anyperson entitled to vote”.Held: As dead people cannot vote, the defendant was held not to havecommitted an offence.
    • vFacts: The claimant’s husband was killed while oiling points along arailway line. Compensation was only payable if he had been “relaying orrepairing” the line.The HL Held: oiling points was maintaining the line and not “relaying orrepairing”.
    • T heLiter alRuleAnswers
    • The literal rule involves givingthe words their plain, ordinaryliteral meaning.
    • The literal rule involves the judgeapplying The literal rule even if itresults in absurdity
    • Lord Esher in R vJudge of the City ofLondon (1892) “ If the words of an Act are clear then you must follow themeven though they lead to a manifest absurdity. The court has nothing to do with the question whether the legislature has committed an absurdity ”
    • This rule has historicaldominance
    • This rule respectsparliamentarysupremacy
    • Fisher v Bell vFacts: A man owned a shop and had a flick knife on display in the shopwindow. Attempts were made to prosecute him for offering for saleoffensive weapons.Held: He was not offering the knife for sale it was simply an invitation totreat.
    • Whiteley v Chappel House vFacts: The defendant pretended to be someone who had recently died inorder to use that person’s vote. It was an offence to “personate anyperson entitled to vote”.Held: As dead people cannot vote, the defendant was held not to havecommitted an offence.
    • LNER v Berriman vFacts: The claimant’s husband was killed while oiling points along arailway line. Compensation was only payable if he had been “relaying orrepairing” the line.The HL Held: oiling points was maintaining the line and not “relaying orrepairing”.
    • Problems with the rule are theissue of absurdity / injustice andlack of flexibility