Adv & Dis Of Literal Rule (Advantages (Certainty / Predictability…
Adv & Dis Of Literal Rule
It encourages Parliament to review poorly drafted Acts.
Using the literal rule can highlight the problems with an Act and prompt Parliament to look at it again.
Fisher v Bell which concerned the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 judges said that advertising a flick knife in a shop window was technically not offering it for sale
Quick and cheap to use.
Often the ordinary and literal meaning can be found from a dictionary.
In Vaughan v Vaughan, the word ‘molest’ was quickly found in a 1973 dictionary (the year the Act being interpreted was passed).
Certainty / Predictability
The rule encourages certainty which helps people to know where they stand
If judges are always changing words in Acts, this creates confusion
A lawyer can advise a business how the Unfair Contract Terms Act will apply to agreements they make.
It adds to the work of Parliament
Parliament is very busy dealing with new legislation so it not helpful that judges refuse to make minor changes.
This is what Parliament had to do following the decision in Fisher v Bell
It ignores the limitations of language
Parliamentary draftsmen can make mistakes & some parts of an Act may be poorly constructed
The rule cannot be used when an Act is simply silent
The Law Commission criticised the literal rule for relying on “unattainable perfection in draftsmanship.”
Michael Zander said that It is ‘mechanical and divorced from the realities of the use of language.’
In Berriman, parliament did not intend that you could not claim if you were maintaining rather than repairing the track.
The literal rule may lead to absurd or unfair results which Parliament could not possibly have intended.
In Whitely v Chappell it was obviously Parliament’s intention to stop all kinds of electoral fraud including the impersonation of dead people.