From Foreign Circumstances to First Instance Considerations: Extrinsic Material and the Law of Statutory Interpretation
(2006) 34 Federal Law Review 103-125.
Posted: 22 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 19, 2018
The sages of the law heretofore have construed statutes ... upon the intent of the Legislature, which they have collected sometimes by considering the cause and necessity of making the Act, sometimes by comparing one part of the Act with another, and sometimes by foreign circumstances. That conclusion was reached in the 1560 case of Stradling v Morgan, and may be taken to correctly state the law at that time. In its context, it is clear that the phrase 'foreign circumstances' was intended to refer not to the state of international relations, but rather to the use of extrinsic material in statutory interpretation. Despite this early acceptance by the English courts of the use of extrinsic material in statutory interpretation, strident restrictions on the use of extrinsic material were later to be introduced into the common law. In discussing the principle that, 'Parliament speaks only through an Act of Parliament,' Dicey stressed the point that, 'the English Bench have always refused, in principle at least, to interpret an Act of Parliament otherwise than by reference to the words of the enactment.'
Keywords: statutory interpretation, extrinsic material
JEL Classification: K10, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation