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Judges and the law
Judges and the law

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6 Part E The rules of statutory interpretation

6.1 Introduction

In this part we will explore the number of rules developed by the courts to assist with the interpretation of a statute. These are:

  • the literal rule

  • the golden rule

  • the mischief rule

  • the purposive approach.

These rules each take different approaches to interpretation of a statute. Some judges prefer one rule, while other judges prefer another. Some judges also feel that their role is to fill the gaps and ambiguities in the law whilst others think that it should be left to Parliament as the supreme law-maker. As the rules can result in very different decisions, it is important to understand each of them and how they may be used.