The process by whereby judges attribute meanings to words in a statute
in order to apply the relevant statute to a case to reach a decision.
There are two approaches: Literal and Purposive.
The literal approach is where the words are given their plain,
ordinary and grammatical meanings.
The purposive approach is when the judge looks at the intentions of
There are two types of aids available for statutory interpretation,
they are Internal aids, which are included within the act, or External
aids that are not included within the act.
These are most likely to be used when the literal or golden rules are
being applied, but might also be useful in finding the purpose of the
These parts of the act can be used so long as they do not conflict
with the clear enacting words of a statute:
* Preamble (often found in old statutes, setting out what acts must
do; private acts must have them)
* Long Title (sets out the aim of the Act)
* Short Title
* Definitions section (helps with the literal approach, as words are
given their meaning)
Punctuation is disregarded, as it was not originally used.
These are mostly used by judges trying to find the purpose of the act.
The following have been traditionally used:
* Historical setting
* Other statutes
* Previous practice in the field covered by the statute
* Treaties and international obligations
* Subordinate legislation
* Dictionaries (used for the golden and literal rules)
* Reports made by the law reform agencies can be used. (since
Black-Clawson 1975, where H/L said official reports preceding the
statute can be considered as evidence of the pre-existing state of
law and the mischief that the legislation was intended to deal
* Hansard can now be used after Pepper v...