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English Legal System

English Legal System (3rd edn)

Steve Wilson, Helen Rutherford, Tony Storey, and Natalie Wortley
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date: 27 November 2021

p. 1064. The interpretation of statuteslocked

p. 1064. The interpretation of statuteslocked

  • Steve Wilson, Steve Wilsonformer Principal Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Helen Rutherford, Helen RutherfordSenior Lecturer and Solicitor, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Tony StoreyTony StoreySenior Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  •  and Natalie WortleyNatalie WortleyAssociate Professor of Law, Northumbria University, Newcastle


This chapter explains the problems of statutory interpretation and how the courts approach the problems. The traditional rules of statutory interpretation, the literal rule, the golden rule, and the mischief rule are explained and the problems associated with their use explored. In modern times the courts now employ a more purposive approach to interpretation using a range of intrinsic and extrinsic aids to interpretation. These include the long title, preamble, cross-headings, marginal or side notes, punctuation, Explanatory Notes, Interpretation Act 1978, pre-parliamentary materials, parliamentary materials—Hansard, statutes on the same subject area— statutes in pari materia, and dictionaries. Rules of language may be employed, e.g. the ejusdem generis rule, the noscitur a sociis rule or the expressio unius est exclusio alterius rule.

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