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Chapter

Cover Contract Law

7. Interpreting the terms  

Construction, rectification, and mutual mistake

This chapter considers how the courts make sense of contracts whose terms are capable of more than one interpretation. It begins by discussing two broad approaches to construing contracts, both of which have influenced English law and both of which continue to form part of the law: literalism and contextualism. It then examines the role English law currently assigns to literalism and contextualism and how the courts decide which to apply, with particular emphasis on the Investors rule and contextual readings. It also evaluates an alternative remedy known as rectification and concludes with an analysis of the limits of construction and the law of mutual mistake.

Chapter

Cover Legal Skills

4. Using legislation  

This chapter discusses how to use legislation. It first looks at the ‘anatomy’ of an Act of Parliament and describes each of its composite parts. It then considers the various means by which the courts can interpret the wording of statutory provisions, including a discussion of the impact of the European Communities Act 1972 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Chapter

Cover English Legal System

4. The interpretation of statutes  

This chapter explains the significance of statutory interpretation and how problems of interpretation arise. The chapter considers in detail the courts’ approach to interpretation, and traditional rules such as the literal rule, the golden rule, and the mischief rule are all analysed with examples from the case law. In modern times the courts employ a more purposive approach to interpretation, and there is coverage of how this approach works in practice. In particular, the chapter outlines a range of intrinsic and extrinsic aids to interpretation that the courts can rely on in interpreting an Act of Parliament. Among others, these aids include the long title, cross-headings, marginal or side notes, dictionaries, pre-parliamentary materials, statutes on the same subject matter, and, most notably, Hansard. The chapter concludes with an overview of the rules of language, namely ejusdem generis, noscitur a sociis, and expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

Chapter

Cover Intellectual Property Law

8. Infringement  

L. Bently, B. Sherman, D. Gangjee, and P. Johnson

This chapter considers the question of what amounts to copyright infringement, first by differentiating between ‘primary’ infringement and ‘secondary’ infringement. It then explains the three criteria used to determine whether copyright in a work has been infringed: whether the defendant carried out one of the activities that falls within the copyright owner’s rights; whether there is a causal link between the work used (that is, reproduced, issued, rented, performed, communicated, or adapted) by the defendant and the copyright work; and whether the restricted act has been committed in relation to the work or a substantial part thereof. It also looks at the European approach to finding infringement (following the Infopaq decision) and compares it with the British approach before concluding with a description of non-literal copying of such works.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law

17. Non-compensatory remedies  

Specific performance, debt, and restitution

This chapter considers a range of non-compensatory remedies that are available at English law in cases of breach. Non-compensatory remedies seek to respond to breach of contract in ways other than compensation. The starting point for non-monetary obligations is that breach is best remedied through the award of damages. Literal enforcement of such an obligation, through an order for specific performance or an injunction, is only awarded in exceptional circumstances. In contrast, obligations involving the payment of a definite sum of money are frequently literally enforced through the remedy of debt. This chapter first examines literal performance as a non-compensatory remedy before discussing debt, gain-based remedies, and restitution interest.

Chapter

Cover Legal Skills

4. Using legislation  

This chapter discusses how to use legislation. It first looks at the ‘anatomy’ of an Act of Parliament and describes each of its composite parts. It then considers the various means by which the courts can interpret the wording of statutory provisions, including a discussion of the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Communities Act 1972.