Traditional Approach to Statutory Interpretation

Traditional Approach to Statutory Interpretation

The traditional approach to statutory interpretation involves looking at the words of the statute itself and applying their plain and ordinary meaning. This approach assumes that the legislature intended the words of the statute to be interpreted literally in their ordinary sense, and that the words should be given their natural and grammatical meaning, unless it would lead to absurd or impractical results.

Under this approach, the court will typically begin by looking at the language of the statute itself, and if the meaning of the words is clear and unambiguous, the court will give effect to that meaning. If the language is unclear or ambiguous, the court may consider other factors, such as the legislative history of the statute, the purpose of the legislation, and the policy considerations behind it.

The traditional approach also involves the use of legal maxims, or general principles of law, to help interpret the meaning of the statute. For example, the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius (the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another) suggests that if a statute explicitly mentions certain things, then other things that are not mentioned are presumed to be excluded.

Another maxim that is commonly used in statutory interpretation is noscitur a sociis (a word is known by the company it keeps), which suggests that the meaning of a word in a statute can be determined by the words that surround it.

The traditional approach to statutory interpretation places a heavy emphasis on the words of the statute itself, and assumes that the words were carefully chosen by the legislature to express their intention. However, critics of this approach argue that it can be overly formalistic and may not take into account the broader context in which the statute was enacted.
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