Rules of Statutory Interpretation 2
Rules of Statutory Interpretation
Statutory interpretation defines the processes by which judges and courts of law engage
in the understanding and interpretation of laws while applying legislation to cases. While some
legislations expressly provide clear interpretation, others do not. The latter’s circumstances lead
to ambiguity, non-specificity, and incomplete coverage by the law. They may also be caused by
new developments relating to legislation where changes have to be applied (Katzmann, 2014: 3).
As a result, judges require secondary interpretation for such legislation to successfully solve an
existing legal challenge. The rules established for statutory interpretation by judges and courts
include the literal rule, the golden rule, and the mischief rule, these get considered within
contextual and purposive approaches.
As the first rule of statutory interpretation, the literal rule draws its name from the
consideration given to statutes during legislation. In this approach, statutes are directly and
literally applied as presented by their draftsmen with their ordinary dictionary meanings being
applied. A case of historical application occurred in the Fisher v. Bell  QB 394(Macleod,
2002: 111). In this case, a shopkeeper who later appealed successfully was convicted of making
an offer of a knife which was considered a prohibited and restricted weapon. While the initial
conviction believed there was an offer, a review of the case indicated that the display of the knife
with a tag was merely an invitation to a treat and not an offer. This rule is advantageous when the
statute is clear. It results in quick resolutions and respects parliamentary supremacy. On the other
hand, it can be unjust and may end up with absurd precedents.
The second rule is the golden rule which has the narrow and wide approach. It gets
applied as an extension of the literal rule and performs the role of eliminating potential absurdity
by the former. Cases falling in the narrow approach are brought about by the multiplicity of