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Report No. 60

2.11. Interpretation Acts and the common law.-

Provisions in interpretation Acts can, in respect of their relationship with the Common Law, be analysed thus. First, there are provisions which declare the law. In many instances, such provisions simply state the rule of law announced by the courts in their decisions 1 with the result that the general principles of the construction of statutes are, in effect, codified. In other words, the statute will simply state the rules of law already declared and applied by the courts. Where this is the case, obviously, the statute has very little, if any, effect upon the judicial attitude.

Secondly, there are various statutory rules of construction which embody efforts of the legislature to correct constructions which it has deemed erroneous. Such rules seek to substitute new rules of construction for existing ones, and thereby alter the common law. Thirdly, there are statutory rules of construction which add to the common law. We have not referred to the above aspect merely as one of academic interest. It helps to elucidate one possible channel in which the reform of the law could be directed,-the confirmation or modification of rules of interpretation laid down by courts, or the addition of rules on matters which have not so far come up before the courts.

1. See Crawford Statutory construction, (1940), pp. 751-752.



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