Describe the golden rule

The golden rule is a principle of statutory interpretation used by courts to interpret legislation when the literal rule leads to an absurd or unreasonable result. It allows the court to depart from the literal meaning of the words and interpret them in a way that avoids the absurdity while still staying true to the general purpose and context of the legislation.

The golden rule is employed when the plain and ordinary meaning of the words used in a statute would lead to an absurd or unreasonable outcome that the legislature could not have intended. In such cases, the court can modify the interpretation to achieve a more sensible and just result. There are two forms of the golden rule:

Narrow application: The narrow or literal golden rule is used when there is ambiguity in the wording of the statute. It allows the court to choose a reasonable interpretation that is most consistent with the overall purpose of the legislation. The court will modify the literal meaning of the words only to the extent necessary to avoid the absurdity.

Wide application: The wide or extended golden rule is applied when there is no ambiguity in the language of the statute, but the literal interpretation would lead to an absurd outcome. In this case, the court can depart from the ordinary meaning of the words to prevent the absurdity, even if it involves some modification or extension of the statutory language.

The golden rule is a flexible tool that permits the court to consider the broader context, purpose, and policy implications of the legislation. It ensures that the interpretation of the law aligns with the intentions of the legislature while avoiding unintended and unreasonable consequences.

However, the golden rule is used sparingly and cautiously. Courts are mindful of not overstepping their role as interpreters of legislation and interfering with the legislative function. The golden rule is seen as a limited exception to the literal rule and is invoked only when necessary to prevent absurd or unreasonable results.
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