Royal College of Nursing of the UK v Department of Health and Social Services

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Citation: Royal College of Nursing of the UK v Department of Health and Social Security [1981] AC 800

This information can be found in the Textbook: Prue Vines, Law and Justice in Australia: Foundations of the Legal System, (2nd ed, Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 406 - 414

Contents

Background Facts

  • An issue arose regarding the meaning of a key phrase "registered medical practitioner" in the Abortion Act 1967 (UK)

Legal Issues

Judgment

Lord Wilberforce and Lord Diplock:

  • When trying to presume the intention of an act which is ambiguous, the ‘mischief rule’ may be used for a purposive approach to interpreting the act – that is, “what mischief…require[s] amendment?”
  • The court must look to the context surrounding enactment of the act when considering its meaning – “it is…necessary, to have regard to the state of affairs existing, and known by Parliament to be existing at the time.” (Lord Diplock)

References

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