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Criminal Law/Subsidiary rules of Literal rule


QUESTION: Respected Jeff,
Greetings! Happy New year and Belated Merry Christmas. I want to enquire whether  Ejusdem generis, Expressio unius est exclussion alterius jusdem generis and Noscitur a sociis are subsidiary rules of Literal rule?


ANSWER: Bilal,

Thank you for the Christmas and New Year's wishes.  I offer the same to you.  Yes, they are subsidiary rules of the Literal Rule of Law which essentially means that if a clear meaning or explanation is obtained then that is the one used. The Ejusdem Generis ("same kind rule") seeks to ensure that language and words have the same meaning from Common Law case to Common Law case. Expressio Unius est Exclusio Alterius ("expression of one thing is the exclusion of others rule") implies that a literal meaning is construed from an exclusionary statement such as, for example, "no children under 12 years of age are admitted."  It is implied that anyone 12 years or older can attend the function.  Noscitur a sociis ("a word is known by the company it keeps") refers to the interpretative rule that when a word is ambiguous, its meaning may be determined by reference to the rest of the statute.  These three rules are used for statutory interpretation and/or Common Law interpretation which are subordinate to the Literal rule.   


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QUESTION: Thanks a zillion Jeff! Applicability is another hectic :). Coming towards my question Is purposive approach known as Mischief rule or Golden rule??
Most of the sources i refer purposive as golden most refer as mischief.
I am confused with this purposive thingy:). Does Mischief denotes Purposive rule??



Sorry for the delay.  Mischief does not denote the Purposive Rule. Within the construct of the Purposive Rule the Court will interpret a statute, clause, or part of a statute in the light of the purpose for which it was enacted.  The Court will research the legislative intent and other historical aspects to see what exactly the statute was created for and what the intent was to be.  By way of contrast the Mischief Rule was one of three rules of statutory interpretation that was applied by English Courts.  The other two were the Plain Meaning Rule and the Golden Rule.  The Mischief Rule then had a very narrow application where it was used to merely determine the mischief and/or defect that could occur in a statute when it was passed to correct a problem in Common Law.  The Court could then correct it using this method of statutory interpretation.  Can you see the difference between the Purposive Rule and the Mischief Rule?  I am sure you can.


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Jeffrey Hauck


I would welcome the opportunity to answer questions relating to or related to the field of criminal law.


Criminologist. Professor of Criminal Justice. Licensed Private Detective with expansive clientele base encompassing hundreds of cases. Donates resources and time to the Children's Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.

Associate of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Master of Science, Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

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