The Human Rights Act Has Revolutionised the Way in Which Judges Interpret Statutes

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“The Human Rights Act has revolutionised the way in which judges interpret statutes.” The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) was incorporated into the United Kingdom (UK) law in order to enforce the rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to which the UK is a party. The Human Rights Act or the 1998 Act is said to have a major impact in judicial interpretative practices (Gearey et al). The rules of statutory interpretation were found at common law but the HRA is said to have given new rules on interpretation. Before turning to HRA, the judicial practice of statutory interpretation and the impact of the membership of the European Union need to be considered. The politics of the common law (Gearey et al.) argues that statutory interpretation can perhaps be best understood as a judicial practice; and judicial practice can be seen as informed by pragmatism and an ‘engagement with the language of Act in question in its legal context.’ The concept of statutory interpretation being a process or a practice is inconsistent with the old idea of thinking in terms of ‘rules’ of statutory interpretation. This new concept can be traced back to Willis’s 1938 article ‘Statutory interpretation in a nutshell’. Willis phrased the process of interpretation in terms of the literal, golden and mischief rules. The judicial practice of statutory interpretation incorporates the constitutional position with an understanding of how certain ‘rules of interpretation’ can be rationally connected. The judicial practice of statutory interpretation has three pre-requisites or basic norms: The Parliament has unlimited law making authority; judges have to give effect to the intention of the Parliament; the interpretation should start with the presumption that one should apply the ordinary, ‘literal’, meaning of the words Parliament has used and it is only if the literal approach fails,

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