W200 Tma 02

Question 1 – 1484 Words
On the 25th October 2012, Dominic Grieve QC MP gave the following statement during a speech at BPP Law School in London:
“The starting point for statutory interpretation today remains the literal interpretation of the text, and it is only if there is genuine ambiguity and uncertainty that extraneous material can be relied upon as a tool.” Grieve, D. (2012)
This essay aims to explain the rules of statutory interpretation (that is, the rules of construction) as used by the English courts - the literal, golden and mischief rules – as well as the purposive approach. It will then discuss the extent to which the literal rule remains the starting point for statutory interpretation and whether the courts only depart from it if there is genuine ambiguity in the legislation, the practice of   using extraneous material (i.e. aids to interpretation), and will conclude by assessing the validity of the aforementioned statement by Dominic Grieve.

The rules of construction are ways of interpreting statutes and statutory instruments. They are not in fact rules, per se, but guidelines or tools, to assist in the interpretation legislation. Statutes can be looked at in a variety of different ways, some of which could lead to widely varying outcomes in a case compared to others. There are traditionally three rules, with a fourth having become popular in more modern times.
The first and oldest of these rules is the literal rule, or the plain meaning rule. Simply put, it directs that the words of the law are followed to the letter, given their plain, ordinary and literal meaning. This was explained further during the Sussex Peerage Case (1844) 1 Cl & Fin 85, where it was stated:
“The only rule for construction of Acts of Parliament is that they should be construed according to the intent of the Parliament which passed the Act. If the words of the Statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those words...