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The Golden Rule of Statutory Interpretation
 
 
 
The golden rule of statutory interpretation may be applied where an application of the literal rule would lead to an absurdity. The courts may then apply a secondary meaning. (River Wear Commissioners v Adamson) (1876-77) L.R. 2 App Cas 743.             
 
 
 
Case examples:
 
 
R v Allen (1872) LR 1 CCR 367         Case summary
 
 
 
Re Sigsworth [1935] 1 Ch 98    Case summary 
 
 
 
 
Adler v George [1964] 2 QB 7 Case summary  
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Problems with the golden rule

 

  • Judges are able to add or change the meaning of statutes and thereby become law makers infringing the separation of powers.

 

  • Judges have no power to intervene for pure injustice where there is no absurdity 
 
London and North Eastern Railway v Berriman [1946] AC 278       Case summary 

 

 
 
 
Advantages of the golden rule
 
 
 
  • Errors in drafting can be corrected immediately eg:

 

R v Allen (1872) LR 1 CCR 367         Case summary

 

 

     
  • Decisions are generally more in line with Parliament's intention

 

  • Closes loopholes

 

  • Often gives a more just result

 

  • Brings common sense to the law
 
 
See also the Literal rule and Mischief rule of statutory interpretation
 
 

The Golden Rule of Statutory Interpretation