With Reference to the Source and Other Cases, Explain the Mischief Rule and Discuss the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using It.

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With reference to the source and other cases, explain the mischief rule and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using it.

Statutory interpretation is the process by which judges interpret acts of parliament. It is the process or reading and applying statutory laws, and judges trying to find out the intention of parliament when passing the law. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and straight forward meaning. But in most cases, there is some ambiguity or vagueness in the words of the statute that must then be resolved by the judge.

The literal rule is the plain meaning rule. It is used when a word or a phrase in a statute or in an act cannot be defined. Therefore it requires the judge to give the word or phrase its natural, ordinary or dictionary meaning, even if this appears to be contrary to the intentions of parliament. To find the meaning of the word or phrase the English Oxford Dictionary is usually used. The specific edition of the dictionary nearest to the year of the act is used.

The golden rule allows the court to look at the literal meaning of a word or phrase, but then avoid using the literal interpretation which would lead to an absurd result. There are two approaches taken while applying the golden rule, these being the narrow approach and the broad approach. If the literal approach results in great absurdity, inconvenience or inconsistency it then modifies the meaning within the context of the statute.

The mischief rule gives judges the most flexibility when deciding what parliament intended to stop. It is a contextual method of interpreting statutes and looks for the wrong, or the mischief which the statute was trying to correct. This was established in Haydon’s case (1584). When using this rule a judge should consider what the common law was before the act was passed, what was wrong with that law and what was the remedy that parliament was trying to provide. Then the judge must apply their finding to the case before the...