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2.2 Finding out about social work
Social work is a dynamic profession that is undergoing a period of significant change in Scotland. Social workers have the power to make assessments and decisions that radically alter people's lives. This unit introduces the law as it relates to social work and encourages an understanding of the context of the law in order to make sound decisions.
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3.3 Summary of part C

What the courts have established in the cases we have looked at is not a hard and fast privacy doctrine, but a situation in which each case is decided by individual judges on its particular merits. There is no free-standing right to privacy for individuals to enforce. However, where individuals have a strong countervailing interest to protect, the courts are willing to uphold their right to confidence.

  • Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones successf
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6.8 Extrinsic aids

Extrinsic aids are matters which may help put an Act into context. Sources include previous Acts of Parliament on the same topic, earlier case law, dictionaries of the time, and the historical setting. In addition, Hansard can now be considered. Hansard is the official report of what was said in Parliament when the Act was debated. The use of Hansard was permitted following the decision in Pepper (Inspector of Taxes) v Hart (1993) where the House of Lords accepted that Hansard could be
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6.7 Intrinsic aids

Intrinsic aids are matters within an Act itself which may help make the meaning clearer. The court may consider the long title, the short title and any preamble. Other useful internal aids may include headings before a group of sections and any schedules attached to the Act. There are also often marginal notes explaining different sections; however, these are not generally regarded as giving Parliament's intention as they will have been inserted after parliamentary debates and are only helpfu
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6.6 Rules of language

The courts may also choose to look at other words in the statute to ascertain the meaning of specific words. To enable them to do this they have developed a number of rules of language to help make the meaning of words and phrases clear. There are three main rules of language:

  • Ejusdem generis

    This rule states that where there is a list of words which is followed by general words then the general words are limited to the same kind of it
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6.5.1 Presumptions

When determining the meaning of particular words the courts will make certain presumptions about the law. If the statute clearly states the opposite, then a presumption will not apply and it is said that the presumption is rebutted. The main presumptions are:

  1. A presumption against change in the common law.

    It is assumed that the common law will apply unless Parliament has made it plain in the Act that the common law has been altered.

  2. <
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6.5 The purposive approach

This approach has emerged in more recent times. Here the court is not just looking to see what the gap was in the old law, it is making a decision as to what they felt Parliament meant to achieve. Lord Denning in the Court of Appeal stated in Magor and St. Mellons Rural District Council v Newport Corporation (1950), ‘we sit here to find out the intention of Parliament and of ministers and carry it out, and we do this better by filling in the gaps and making sense of the enactmen
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6.4 The mischief rule

This third rule gives a judge more discretion than either the literal or the golden rule. This rule requires the court to look to what the law was before the statute was passed in order to discover what gap or mischief the statute was intended to cover. The court is then required to interpret the statute in such a way to ensure that the gap is covered. The rule is contained in Heydon's Case (1584), where it was said that for the true interpretation of a statute, four things have to be
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6.3 The golden rule

This rule is a modification of the literal rule. It states that if the literal rule produces an absurdity, then the court should look for another meaning of the words to avoid that absurd result. The rule was closely defined by Lord Wensleydale in Grey v Pearson (1857) HL Cas 61, who stated:

The grammatical and ordinary sense of the words is to be adhered to unless that would lead to some absurdity or some r
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6.2 The literal rule

Under this rule the judge considers what the statute actually says, rather than what it might mean. In order to achieve this, the judge will give the words in the statute a literal meaning, that is, their plain ordinary everyday meaning, even if the effect of this is to produce what might be considered as an otherwise unjust or undesirable outcome. The literal rule says that the intention of Parliament is best found in the ordinary and natural meaning of the words used. As the legislative dem
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6.1 Introduction

In this part we will explore the number of rules developed by the courts to assist with the interpretation of a statute. These are:

  • the literal rule

  • the golden rule

  • the mischief rule

  • the purposive approach.

These rules each take different approaches to interpretation of a statute. Some judges prefer one rule, while other judges prefer another. Some judges also feel that their role is
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5.2 Summary of Part D

Part D explored several of the reasons which may result in a word or phrase in an Act of Parliament having an unclear meaning. This was illustrated by a number of examples. Interpretation of those words or phrases becomes a task for the courts. In this role, it can be argued that the courts are involved in the law-making process as they have been required to interpret and define a statute.

5.1 Reasons for unclear meaning

The meaning of law in a statute should be clear and explicit, but this is not always achieved. Thus, many of the cases which come before the courts concern a dispute over the meaning of a word or phrase in a statute. In those cases the task of the court is to decide the exact meaning of that particular word or phrase. There are a number of factors which can lead to an unclear meaning.

  • A broad term – There may be words designed to cover sever
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4.4 Summary of Part C

In Part C you have learnt that:

  • accurate law reporting allows for legal principles to be collated, identified and accessed;

  • there are many sources of law reports: Year Books (1275–1535), private reports (1535–1865), modern reports (1865 to present), the Law Reports, Weekly Law Reports, All England Law Reports, legal periodicals and newspapers, European Community Reports, DVD-ROMs and legal databases available via the internet.


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4.3 Summary of accurate law reporting

This section stressed the importance of accurate law reporting which allows for legal principles to be collated, identified and accessed. I examined where you might locate case reports on particular areas of the law. These are:

  • Year Books (1275–1535)

  • Private reports (1535–1865)

  • Modern reports (1865 to present)

  • The Law Reports

  • Weekly Law Reports (citation WLR)

  • All
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4.2.11 Neutral citation

In line with the ongoing modernisation of the whole legal system, the way in which cases are to be cited has been changed. Since January 2001 a new neutral system was introduced, and cases in the various courts are now cited as follows (‘EW’ means England and Wales):

House of Lords [year] UKHL case no.
Court of Appeal
Court of Ap
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4.2.10 DVD-ROMs and internet facilities

As in most other fields, the growth of information technology has revolutionised law reporting and law finding. Many of the law reports mentioned above are available both on DVD-ROM and via the internet through legal databases such as Justis, Lawtel, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw UK. Many such databases, however, require you to complete a registration process and there may be a charge for the service. Altrnatively they may be available, for free, to registered university or college students studyin
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4.2.9 European Community reports

Although European cases may appear in the reports considered above, there are two specialist reports relating to EU cases.

  • European Court Reports (ECR)

    These are the official reports produced by the European Court of Justice. As such, they are produced in all the official languages of the Community and consequently suffer from delay in reporting.

  • Common Market Law Reports (CMLR)

    These are unofficial reports published wee
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4.2.8 Specialist reports

There are a number of specialist reports. Indeed, there are more than can be mentioned here, but amongst the most important are:

Industrial Relations Law Review (IRLR)
Knight's Local Government Reports (LGR)
Lloyd's Law Reports (Lloyd's Rep.)
Report on Tax Cases (TC or Tax Cas)
Family Law
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4.2.7 Legal periodicals and newspapers

The Solicitors’ Journal (Sol Jo or SJ) has been reporting cases since 1856 and some cases are only to be found in its reports. In such circumstances, the reports may be cited in court. The same is also true for cases reported in other journals, such as the New Law Journal (NLJ) or the other specialist legal journals.

Figure 6
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