Introduction allowing them to consider the decisions of

Introduction to Statutory interpretation

interpretation is the process in which Judges attempt to interpret various
different acts of Parliament; over 75% of cases that are heard by the House of
Lords are in-fact concerned with statutory interpretation1. Statutory
interpretation is simply the process of reading and then applying various
statutory laws, judges will often attempt to decipher the intention of
parliament when passing a law2. There
are three key rules and an approach that are used in order to deal with
statutory interpretation; the Literal rule, the Golden rule, the Mischief rule
and the Purposive approach.

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Human Rights Interpretation and Application
within UK Law

joining the EU, UK law has been drastically affected, which in turn affects how
the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court approaches statutory interpretation, for
instance; prior to the enactment of the Human Rights act 1998, The European
Convention was pertinent on statutory interpretation as the treaty had not yet
been incorporated into English Law, therefore it could not possibly be a source
of rights, therefore it could not be used for statutory interpretation3 (R. v Secretary of State for the Home
Department Ex p. Brind). Considering this point, it becomes clear that the Human
Rights Act 1998 has given apparent effect to the rights that are contained in
the European Convention to be enforced in our domestic courts, allowing them to
consider the decisions of the Strasbourg court, however are not bound to follow
it under section 2(1) of the Human Rights act 19984. Section
3(1) of the Human rights act has forced an obligation onto UK courts (Including
the Supreme Court), to interpret domestic legislation in a way that is fully
compatible with the ECHR, this applied to both primary and secondary
legislation whether it was passed before or after the enactment of the HRA 1998.
However in rare cases, UK courts may declare that interpreting legislation in a
way that is compatible with the ECHR is impossible; therefore a declaration of incompatibility
must be made (Carson v Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions5).
It is still to be considered that the HRA 1998 allows parliament to enact any legislation
that is violating the European Convention rights if necessary. A potential
issue with the interpretation of European Convention rights is that
jurisprudence may have changed, in relation to this issue, section 3(1) of the
HRA 1998 requires the UK’s domestic and Supreme court(s) to create legislation
in the context of European Convention rights as they are at the time of
judgement, therefore the meaning of statutes may change as interpretations over
time6.  In conclusion to this section, it is clear
that section 3 gives the courts a much greater sense of latitude when
interpreting legislation than was previously available.


2 Ibid

3 Regina v
Secretary of State for the Home Department, Ex parte Brind and Others, page 762. AC 696

Paragraph 2

5 Carson v Secretary of State for Work and
Pensions, UKHL 37

6 Ibid 4
(Paragraph 6)


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