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Report No. 60

2.9. Statutes to be adopted to facts of life.-

Statutes are the expressions of the will of an authority constituted by society to announce general obligatory legal rules. The binding force of statute law attaches to the formula in which the law is expressed1. The task of interpretation of a statute is of extracting, from the formula, all that it contains of legal rules, with a view to adapting it, as perfectly as possible, to the facts of life2. Therefore, the insertion of rigid rules may go against the very concept of interpretation. Moreover, with the passage of time, there may be changes in the meaning of words. As has been stated3, "some words are confined to their history, while some are starting points for history."

To quote Lord Reid4

"All these canons of construction give a lot of material for people who like dealing with them, but I do not think they are more than guides, and guides which take you a very short way."

1. Geny Methode, Part III, C.T., cited in Stone Legal System, (1964), p. 216.

2. Stone Legal System, (1964), p. 216.

3. Frankfurter Reading of Statutes, cited in Stone Legal System, (1964), p. 351, footnote 29.

4. Lord Reid in (1955) Australian Law Journal 221.

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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