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Legal System | Statutory Interpretation

Aids: Intrinsic

Revision Note | Degree

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  • intrinsic aids are found within the statute


  • long & short titles have been used by courts to determine meaning

    Black Clawson Case [1975]

    • Lord Simon: [the long title is] the .. plainest of all the guides to the general objectives of a statute...

    Royal College of Nursing of the UK v DHSS [1981]

    • on appeal 4/5 law lords referred to the long title of the Abortion Act 1967

    Christmas Day Trading Act 2004

    • An Act prohibiting the opening of large shops on Christmas Day and to restrict the loading or unloading of goods at such shops on Christmas Day.
    • long title makes it clear the aim is to restrict large shops from trading


  • ceased to be used in nineteenth century except in private Acts
  • Acts may contain an objectives or purposes section at beginning

Definition sections

  • Acts may include sections in which words are expressly defined

    Animal Boarding Act 1963

    • S5(2): In this Act animal means any dog or cat.

Explanatory notes

  • notes were first used by Parliament alongside Bills in 1999

    R v A [2001]

    • Lord Hope: I think that it is legitimate to refer for the purposes of clarification to the notes to this section in the explanatory notes to the Act prepared by the Home Office. I would use it in the same way as I would use the explanatory note attached to a statutory instrument.

    Westminster Council v National Asylum Support Service [2002]

    • Lord Steyn: Insofar as the Explanatory Notes cast light on the objective setting or contextual scene of the statute, and the mischief at which it is aimed, such materials are therefore always admissible as aids to construction.

    R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police ex p LS & Marper [2004]

    • Lord Steyn: .. they may potentially contain much more immediate and valuable material than other aids regularly used by the courts, such as Law Commission Reports, Government Committee reports, Green Papers, and so forth.


  • punction can be considered

    Hanlon v Law Society (1981)

    • Lord Lowry: To ignore punctuation disregards the reality that literate people, such as parliamentary draftsmen, do punctuate what they write.


  • can be absolutely necessary to refer to

    Hunting Act 2004

    • S2(1): Hunting is exempt if it is within a class specified in Schedule 1.
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