In this case, Supreme Court judge Lord Hodge took an opportunity to reiterate and clarify the importance of pure statutory interpretation as the primary source by which the language used in Acts of Parliament is to be understood. This therefore clarified the fundamental role of superior judges as interpreters rather than creators of law. He stated that: ‘Statutory interpretation involves an objective assessment of the meaning which a reasonable legislature as a body would be seeking to convey in using the statutory words which are being considered.’ In so considering the role of judges, he also clarified that external aids to interpretation must operate as secondary sources. To this latter source he listed inter alia: Law Commission reports, Royal Commission reports and Government White Papers.
Such secondary sources, he said, may reveal the context to a statute and help a court to identify ‘not only the mischief [gap or problem with the law] which it addresses but also the purpose of the legislation, thereby assisting a purposive interpretation of a particular statutory provision’ and that, ‘The context disclosed by such materials is relevant to assist the court to ascertain the meaning of the statute, whether or not there is ambiguity and uncertainty, and indeed may reveal ambiguity or uncertainty’. However, he was insistent, and the other Supreme Court judges agreed, that external aids did not override or remove the meaning conveyed by the pure words of a statute where they are clear and unambiguous and produce no absurdity.
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