Rules that govern statutory interpretation

  1. Literal rule
    This is the basic rule statutory interpretation. It is to the effect that if the words of the statute are clear and exact, they should be given their literal or plain or dictionary meaning. Sentences should be given their ordinary aramatical meaning.
  2. Golden rule:
    This rule is to some extent an exception to literal rule. It is applied to avoid arriving at an absurd or repugnant interpretation under the literal rule.
    Under this rule, the court is free to vary or modify the literal meaning of the word, phrase or sentence so as to get rid of the absurdity or repugnancy.
    The rule was explained in Becke V. Smith and in Grey V. Pearson, it was used in R. V.Allen, independent Aistomatic sales and knows and foster.
  3. Mischief rule: (Rule inHeydons case)
    This is the oldest rule of statutory interpretation. Under the rule, the court examines the statute to ascertain the mischief it was intended to remedy and then inteprete it in such a way as to advance the remedy and suppress any mischief.
    This rule was explained Lord Coke in Heydons case (1584) and applied in Smith V.Hughes (1961)
  4. Ejus dem generic
    This rule is applied to interprete things of the same kinds, genus and species. This rule was explained in R V. Edmundson as follows, where general words follow particular words in a statute, the general words must be interpreted as being limited to the class or person or thing designated the particular words; This rule is only applicable where words of general signification follow particular words in a statute.
    It is only applicable where the particular words from a class or persons or things. The rules was applied in the case of Evans V. Cross to interprete the interpretation of Road Traffic Act, 1930.
  5. Noscitur a sociis
    This rule is of the effect that words of doubtful meaning derive the colour and precission from the words and phrases with which they are associated.
  6. A statue must be interpreted as a whole;
    This is the wholistic rule of interpretation. All words, phrases and sentences must be given their due meaning unless they are meaningless conflicting clauses must be reconciled unless they are irreconcilable.
  7. Expressio unius est exclusion ulterius
    This rule means that the expression of one thing implies the exclusion of another. The rule is to the effect that where a statute uses particular words which are not followed general words then the statute only applies to the instances mentioned.
  8. Rendendo Singular Singulis
    This rule is to the effect that where a word, phrase or sentence variously used is the statute, it must be accorded the same meaning through out the statute.
  9. Rank principle
  10. Statutes in parimateria

Statutory interpretation

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