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Understanding Common Law LegislationDrafting and Interpretation$
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F. A. R. Bennion

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199564101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564101.001.0001

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Legal policy

Legal policy

Chapter:
(p.89) 10 Legal policy
Source:
Understanding Common Law Legislation
Author(s):

F. A. R. Bennion

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199564101.003.0011

A principle of statutory interpretation embodies legal policy, which is based on public policy. The content is what judges think and say it is, though they are guided by relevant legislation. Legal policy consists of principles the judges consider the law must uphold, such as: that law should serve the public interest, that it should be fair and just, etc. Different elements of legal policy, for example the safeguarding of personal liberty and the need for state security, may conflict. On some aspects legal policy may change drastically over a period. The court ought not to enunciate a new head of policy where Parliament has demonstrated its willingness to intervene. It is a principle of legal policy that domestic law should conform to public international law. This has been given statutory effect in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights by the Human Rights Act 1998 s 3(1).

Keywords:   principle, statutory interpretation, legal policy, public policy, public international law, human rights

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