• Revision:Extrinsic Aids

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Extrinsic aids to interpretation are those found outside the actual Act. The following extrinsic aids have been regarded as acceptable.

Dictionaries and legal textbooks Dictionaries are an obvious tool to assist with the literal rule.

Other statutes Earlier Acts have relevance in tracing the mischief that an Act was designed to tackle. The Interpretation Act 1978 defines particular terms that are founf in a range of statutes.

Reports of the Law Commission and other law reform bodies An Act is often prededed by an investigation by one of the bodies set up by the government to investigate options for reforming the law. These bodies produce reports on their findings and recommendations, which the government may adopt in a Bill.

International treaties It is presumed by the courts that Parliament does not legislate in a way that would be a clear breach of a treaty signed by the United Kingdom government.

Explanatory notes Acts passed since 1999 have been accompanied by explanatory notes. These notes summarise the main provisions of the Act and explain the background to it. The government department responsoble for the legislation writes them after the Act has been passed. For this reason, they should be regarded as extrinsic aids. The Fur Trade Act, for example, is quite a short Act though it has an explanatory note some eight pages long. This explains the main purpose of the Act {'to prohibit fur farming'}, as well as summarising and commenting on the various sections. Explanatory notes are written in much more readable language than Acts. Between 1999 and April 2003, there were no cases in which their use was considered. As a result, the way in which judges might use them is not yet clear.


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