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Importance Of Statutory Interpretation In The Field Of Law Studies

Shiv Ratan08 October 2018



The word ‘statutory interpretation’ is a word that we automatically connect with the legal field of studies. It is the application of legislation and interpretation of courts when a statute involved. 


These words are often a simple description of the law but there are times when the complications of the words can meddle with the judgment passed and hence the judge is left on his own to interpret it. Hence judges use certain techniques to interpret such laws. A few techniques include traditional canons of statutory interpretation, legislative history and purpose. In common law, the judiciary applies the laws to delegated legislation and legislation enacted by the legislature. 


In simple terms, legal statutory is the understanding of whether a particular law applies to a certain circumstance and if applicable, what are its consequences. 


 The history of statutory interpretation in England can be taken as an example. A statute generally guides the magistrate but there doesn’t exist a judicial precedent to this in the Roman or Civil court in England. The history of parliament in England failed to create a code of legislation and it was upon the courts to develop common law and this was later added as laws to the legislation. The main aim behind the creation of statutes was to implement the plans of the parliament. 


There are various types of statutes:


1. Private: while acts are usually public, there are also some private acts

2. Subordinate or delegated: acts that can grant permission to certain other authorities to make decisions. These are done based on: 

ordinance

by-laws

rules

regulations


3. Consolidated: bringing together a number of similarly used laws together. It replaces amended laws. 

4. Code: incorporates changed legislation and common laws. The effect of the code is that it states all the laws that can be applied in the same case. 


When a confusion occurs in the common law, a statute law takes birth. Statutes are interpreted by common law judges. There are no legislations where there exist no flaws. The importance of this has become more prevalent in the modern times when the usage of legalization is available and is utilized by even the poorest sector. There are cases when the judges and lawyers are unaware of the use the techniques to statutory interpretation. This unawareness has created important yet legally unwarranted developments. 


Need for statutory interpretation:


  • Complex nature of the statute after being subjected to changes can result in vagueness. This can result in the need for correct interpretation
  • Anticipating every possible version of a particular case can result in incoherence and such gaps in the law demand a right interpretation of the law. 
  • The use of certain words can lead to mistakes and the parties might utilize the various meanings to their advantage and it becomes the liability of the court to interpret the right meaning for further use.


 The few approaches used by the court is:


  • Literal approach: understanding the statute by its literal meaning and applying it to the case
  • Golden rule approach: this is also dependent on the meaning of the plain text but with slight modifications to avoid misinterpretation
  • Mischief approach: interpret according to what’s best for the situation. 
  • Explore extrinsic materials: refer other sources to implore the meaning


The literary rule:


The literal meaning method precedes all others. This rule is based on the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy, i.e. judges are not allowed to make the law. To prevent allegations raised against the court, the judges usually prefer the literal method as it goes by the word by word meaning and thus preventing the clients to find potential loopholes to create comfortable escapades.


The golden rule: 


It falls under the shadow of the literal rule and it is a backup technique that prevents the absurdities of literal rule. It demands the specific law to be read as a whole and not with the literal sense. 


This rule is applied in two ways:


Firstly, if there is a confusion regarding the particular law, priority is given to those words that make sense with the context. And not to those that make it look absurd.

Secondly, words can be modified in order to avoid the absurd meaning that is produced otherwise. 


The mischief rule:


This method is used to determine whether the statute exists to create or close loopholes. It is used to interpret the loopholes created and act according to the need of the hour and practically approach the law without the allowance of escapes for the guilty. 


Extrinsic aid:


Referring to other sources such as a dictionary or earlier cases to clear the absurdities caused is another method that the judges use to interpret the tricky statements of the law.


The importance lies in the appropriate interpretation of the law despite the chaos it is in the written form. The rules of language and the help of intrinsic and extrinsic materials for reference and citation in case of confusion is the practical solution to the approach towards this system. The use of such statutes is to implement and carry out the laws in the way it is supposed to serve, the main purpose is ‘to serve justice to the deserving’. 


The proper functioning of the judiciary lies in the hands of statutes.  


Delegated Legislation:


This allows someone else to create certain laws, someone other than parliament like professional, public or local bodies to administer the making of laws. These authority representatives are called as delegates. There are reasons why parliament does not take up this task. 


The parliament lacks time to debate over every new law that needs to be passed. For example, if a law related to the regulation of fees taken in medical colleges, those members of parliament who have no knowledge in the same field shall not be able to contribute to the lawmaking. 


Byelaws is another method used to avoid confusion. This is a form of delegated legislation that is not made statutory. Instead of using other delegates, we use intrinsic sources to create amends in the law that already exists.

 

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