Commentary

A2.118 Principle 2—the legislation in question must be construed purposively and in its context

Administration and compliance

A2.118 Principle 2—the legislation in question must be construed purposively and in its context

A2.118 Principle 2—the legislation in question must be construed purposively and in its context

A purposive construction1 is one that gives effect to the legislative purpose either by following the literal meaning of the enactment where that meaning is in accordance with the legislative purpose, or by applying a strained meaning where the literal meaning is not in accordance with the legislative purpose. The function of a purposive construction of statute, as with any method of statutory construction, is to ascertain not what Parliament meant but the true meaning of what Parliament said2.

The enacted wording

There is a presumption that the text of the legislation is the pre-eminent indication of the legislator's purpose3. If the enactment is grammatically capable of one meaning only, and on an informed interpretation there is no real doubt as to whether that meaning is the one intended by the legislator, the legal meaning of the enactment corresponds to its grammatical meaning, and is to be applied accordingly4. The central importance of the wording of enacted intention was emphasised in Aston Cantlow and Wilmcote with Billesley Parochial Church Council v Wallbank5.

The 'scheme of the Act'

However, the words used by the draftsman must be taken in their context, and therefore have such meaning (if capable of such meaning) as is in conformity with the intention as thus

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