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Legal System | Statutory Interpretation

Mischief Rule: Introduction

Model Answer | A Level

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Describe what is meant by the golden rule

The golden rule is a modification of the literal rule. If using the literal rule produces an absurdity, then the court should look for another meaning of the words to avoid that absurd result (Grey v Pearson).

The narrow application is when the word has more than one meaning the least absurd should be used. In Allen, the defendant was accused of bigamy, defined as someone who shall marry any other person. The defence argued that the second marriage was to a close relative and so could not be a marriage. This would have meant because no bigamous marriage is lawful that bigamy is impossible. Therefore, the judge used the golden rule to decide that marry means to go through with a ceremony of marriage.

Wider application is when the plain meaning of the text is unambiguous but to apply it would cause an absurdity. In Re Sigsworth a son had murdered his mother. She had left no will so her estate would be inherited by her next of kin, her son. The golden rule was used to prevent repugnant situation of the son inheriting.

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