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The Fundamentals of Statutory Interpretation

This book analyzes the modern principle of statutory interpretation as described by Canadian courts. An invaluable resource, the book includes the topic from an administrative law perspective, as well as constitutional interpretation.

Publication Language: English
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ISBN/ISSN: 9780433494928

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A fresh perspective

The modern principle is the official approach to statutory interpretation in Canada and is the foundation for the structure of this text. The modern principle focuses on the language of a statutory provision in light of its purpose, intent and context, and Hutchison devotes separate chapters to each of these aspects of statutory interpretation. The Fundamentals of Statutory Interpretation also critiques the various facets of the modern principle with a view to help identify more convincing interpretations of legislative intent. In addition, it tackles complicated issues concerning both the temporal application of statutes, such as retroactivity and retrospectivity, and when legislation may interfere with “vested rights.”

The Fundamentals of Statutory Interpretation is a must-have resource for anyone seeking to gain insight into statutory interpretation in Canada. Written in an accessible, easy-to-understand manner, this authoritative volume is particularly useful because it:

  • Combines the best aspects of a textbook and a casebook as it includes detailed commentary and analysis of the subject matter, and not just case references
  • Highlights key elements from leading cases by presenting the most definitive precedents for each aspect of statutory interpretation

 This book would be a valuable acquisition for:

  •  Litigation lawyers who can refer to this comprehensive guide to statutory interpretation to determine how courts have used principles of interpretation in past cases and to help guide their litigation strategy
  • Law students who need to learn the fundamentals of statutory interpretation
  • Law libraries serving students, lawyers, policymakers and the judiciary – especially practitioners who may not deal with questions of interpretation on a regular basis
  • Tribunal members and judges who can refer to this resource when they are dealing with interpretation issues

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Table of contents


Chapter 1: Foundations
A. What is legislation?
B. What is statutory interpretation?
C. Why do statutes require interpretation?
D. Institutional competence of the judiciary to interpret statutes
E. Situating statutory interpretation within legal reasoning
F. A note about the Interpretation Act
Chapter 2: The Modern Principle
A. Approaches and aids to interpretation
B. The modern principle
C. The modern principle refined
Chapter 3: Textual Meaning
A. Defined meaning
B. Ordinary meaning
C. Technical or special meanings
D. Maxims of interpretation
E. Punctuation and components
Chapter 4: Contextual Meaning
A. Statutory context
B. Legal context
C. External context
Chapter 5: Legislative History and Intent
A. Legislative history as a specific inquiry into a determination of legislative intent
B. The uses of legislative history
C. Types of legislative history
D. Legislative intent
Chapter 6: Purpose
A. Where do you find purpose?
B. When purpose supports an interpretation
C. When purpose yields equivocal interpretations
Chapter 7: Temporal Application
A. When statutes come into force
B. When statutes are ambiguous about their application
C. A new approach to temporal application
Chapter 8: Administrative Decision-Making and Judicial Review
A. Statutory Interpretation, Administrative Decision-Making, and Judicial Review
B. The Standard of Review Analysis
C. Persistent Problems and Subsequent Developments
D. Conclusion
Chapter 9: Constitutional Interpretation
A. What is the Constitution of Canada?
B. The Approach to Canadian Constitutional Interpretation
C. Conclusions