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Lecture 3

Law 2101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Precedent, Statutory Interpretation, Traction Engine


Department
Law
Course Code
Law 2101
Professor
Mysty Sybil Clapton
Lecture
3

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the$law,$through$various$mechanisms,$sets$down$various$rules
But$those$rules,$or$their$application$to$a$future$matter,$are$not$always$clear
Ex.$What$exactly$ does$a$term$in$a$statute$mean
mushrooms
§
Ex.$What$relevance$ does$a$prior$court$decision$have$to$a$future$dispute
There$are$rules$as$to$how$those$rules$should$be$interpreted
Statutory$Interpretation
Statutes$are$often$couched$in$general$language
Courts$must$decide$if$facts$of$particular$cases$fit$within$general$language
This$involves:
Determining$the$meaning$of$statutory$terms
Determining$the$applicability$of$statutory$terms
Ex.$marriage$$what$does$this$term$mean?$Does$it$include$same$sex$
marriage?$Legal?$Common-law?
No$set$formula$for$determining$legislative$meaning
'Rules'$of$statutory$interpretation$are$better$understood$as$guidelines
"statutory$interpretation$is$probably$best$described$as$a$process$that$requires$
the$exercise$ of$judgement$in$balancing$the$ordinary$meaning$of$words,$the$
context$of$the$entire$statute,$and$the$purpose$of$the$statute."
Modern$rule$of$interpretation
The$weight$to$be$given$to$each$of$these$elements$in$a$particular$case$is$not$
settled
Judgement$and$argument$are$critical
In-Line$Skate$Scenario
HTA,%s.1(1):%vehicle”%includes%a%motor%vehicle,%trailer,%traction%engine,%farm%
tractor,%road-building%machine,%bicycle%and%any%vehicle%drawn,%propelled%or%
driven%by%any%kind%of%power,%including%muscular%power,%but%does%not%include%a%
motorized%snow%vehicle%or%a%street%car”%
Are$roller$skates$vehicles$
Apparently$yes????
Interpreting$ Case$Law
Stare&decisisto$stand$by$decisions$and$not$disturb$settled$matters
Courts$must$follow$decisions$of$higher$courts$in$the$same$jurisdiction
Courts$should$decide$like$cases$alikefollow$precedent
Creates$certainty$in$the$law
Allows$people$to$organize$legal$affairs$based$on$reasonable$
expectation$of$rights$and$obligations
Allows$people$to$resolve$disputes$based$on$reasoned$
assessment$of$probable$result$of$litigation
§
Ensures$equity$and$fairness
But$in$a$legal$system$with$multiple$jurisdictions$(both$nationally$and$
internationally)$what$is$the$relevance$of$decisions$from$non-biding$courts
And$how$do$you$know$what$$a$case$has$$decided?$
courts$are$only$bound$to$follow$the$decisions$of$those$courts$that$are$higher$in$
the$same$judicial$hierarchy
Decisions$of$other$courts,$however,$can%be$persuasive
Technically,$a$case$is$only$binding$authority$for$the$legal$principles$on$which$it$
was$decided
The$ratio&decidendi
Other$statements$in$the$decision$are$obiter&dicta (things$said$by$the$way)$and$
thus$not$technically$binding
Distinguishing$between$the$two$is$not$always$easy
Answer$is$not$truly$known$until$a$subsequent$court$determines$the$answer
A$court$is$only$bound$to$follow$precedent$if:
It$deals$with$the$same$issue$as$the$prior$court$and
The$facts$of$the$currently$case$are$not$distinguishable$with$the$facts$from$
an$earlier$ case
Interpreting)the)Law
Thursday,$September$ 14,$2017
10:03$AM
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