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Legal System | Statutory Interpretation

Aids: Extrinsic

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  • extrinsic aids are outside of the actual statute


  • dictionaries can be used to give words their ordinary meaning

    R v Fulling [1987]

    • word oppression in S76(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
    • adopted the third definition provided in Oxford English Dictionary

Previous statutes

  • it can be necessary to look at past statutes

    R v Wheatley [1979]

    • Court Appeal had to interpret provisions in the Explosive Substances Act 1883
    • long title: An Act to amend the law relating to explosive substances, amending the Explosives Act 1875.


  • argument has surrounded the use of Hansard (the record of Parliamentary debates)

    Davis v Johnson [1979]

    • Lord Denning argued: [not to use Hansard] .. would be to grope around in the dark for the meaning of an Act without switching the light on....
    • however it was held he was wrong to have consulted Hansard

    Pickstone v Freemans (1988)

    • Hansard used to establish why the Equal Pay Act 1979 had been passed

    Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart (1993)

    • held Hansard can only be used where the legislation is ambiguous or leads to an absurdity
    • and the material relied on comprises one or more statements by a Minister or other promoter of the Bill

White Papers

  • consultation documents have been considered

    W v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [2006]

    • white paper used to clarify the whether the word remove meant a police officer could use force to take an under 16 year-old home from a dispersal area
    • held it allowed force to be used

Committee reports

  • can be used in a limited way

    R v Allen [1985]

    • Criminal Law Revision Committee Report considered
    • stressed only been used to determine the mischief not to interpret the meaning of Theft Act 1978

Academic studies

  • academic reports and commentaries may be considered

    R v Shivpuri (1987)

    • a case on criminal attempts
    • court acknowledged academic argument
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