Statutory Interpretation

January 13th, 2021 by James Goudie KC

In Privacy International v Investigatory Powers Tribunal (2021) EWHC 27 ( Admin ) Bean LJ stated relevant principles of statutory interpretation as follows :-

(1) The task is to ascertain the intention of Parliament as expressed in the words it has chosen: para 32;

(2) What Parliament has said will be derived from individual words read in the context of the enactment as a whole: para 33;

(3) Ascertaining the statutory context involves a determination of the purpose of the enactment: para 34;

(4) If the enactment is ambiguous, the meaning which relates the scope of the enactment to the mischief it is intended to cure should be adopted, rather than a different or wider meaning which the situation before Parliament did not call for: ibid;

(5) There is a distinction between ascertaining the purpose of an enactment and deploying the statutory context to bestow the widest possible powers that the language may sustain: para 36;

(6) Absent express language or necessary implication, the Courts will presume that fundamental rights are untouched: para 37.

Ascertaining the statutory context does not involve an assessment of evidence relating to the asserted advantages of two competing interpretations.


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