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Legal System | Statutory Interpretation

Rules of Language: Introduction

Model Answer | A Level

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Describe what is meant by the rules of language

The rules of language are known as subsidiary rules.

The ejusdem generis rule literally means of the same kind. It applies where specific words are followed by general words and means that the general words are limited to things of the same kind.

In Powell v Kempton Park Race Course a ring at a racecourse was held not to fall within the terms house, office, room or other place as these words were interpreted as an indoor place. In Gregory v Fearn, it was found that no tradesman, artificer, workman, labourer or other person whatsoever shall work on a Sunday, did not apply to estate agents.

The noscitur a sociis rule literally means a word is known by the company it keeps. Under this rule words must be read in context.

In Bourne v Norwich Crematorium it was noted words..derive colour from those which surround them.... In Muir v Keay the defendant kept cafe open at night without a licence. A licence is required if a premises is open for public refreshment, resort and entertainment. It was held entertainment applied to drinking coffee late at night in the context of the Act.

The expressio unius est exclusion alterius literally means the mention of one thing excludes the other. It applies where there is a list of words which is not followed by general words and means the Act will only apply to the items in the list.

In Sedgley Inhabitants it was held the use of the words lands, houses and coalmine excluded other types of mine.

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