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Legal Method Coursework

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    What were the material facts of the case? The respondent is a married man who had recently been made redundant after 22 years of employment in June 1999. The respondent had a large family in which 8 kids were dependant on him and the other 3 were at university. The respondent occupied 11a Gallagher Road but when his family grew he also purchased 19 Gallagher road in 1992 two houses down from his current residence. The respondent lived on redundancy money until it ran out so he then applied for ‘job seekers allowance’.

    Rules state that one dwelling house can be disregarded when deciding upon whether the applicant’s capital exceeds ? 8,000. On March 22nd 2000 it was decided that the value of the second house would not be disregarded and therefore made him ineligible to receive the allowance. The respondents appeal to the tribunal was unsuccessful so on the 26th July 2002 the respondent appealed to the Commissioner who decided that there was “sufficient uncertainty” about the facts of the case so it could be remitted for a rehearing before a differently constituted tribunal.

    The tribunal heard the case remitted to them on the 26th July 2002, the respondent gave evidence which was accepted. The tribunal then accepted that 19 Gallagher road was not used solely by the claimants non dependent children and that the claimant himself did not use it only occasionally.

    Explain, in your own words, the legal issues in this case. The legal issue in this case is that in paragraph 1 of schedule 8 of the jobseekers regulations 2006 it states that “only one dwelling house shall be disregarded under this paragraph”, but in this case the respondent owns two different properties which are separated by two other houses.

    It was up to the tribunal to decide whether or not these two houses counted as one. If the tribunal took the view that they were in fact two separate houses then only one house can be disregarded and the respondents capital would exceed the ? 8,000 limit set in place. Furthermore, he would be ineligible to receive the job seekers allowance. However, if the tribunal decide to take the view that the two houses were in fact a singular dwelling the respondent capital does not exceed ? 8,000 and is therefore eligible for job seekers llowance. Which technique(s) of statutory interpretation, presumptions and/or ‘rules of language’ did Ward L. J. employ in the case? Evidence your answer by reference to dicta in the case. Mr Lord Justice Ward employed the literal rule in this case. The literal rule is where the judge gives words their natural and ordinary meanings. The literal rule is one of the more common techniques used by judges. The literal rule allows very little flexibility which can lead to ‘absurd results’.

    Lord Justice Ward states “’dwelling occupied as a home’ is as I have pointed out, defined in regulation 1 and so bears the same meaning for the purpose of schedule 2 as it does for the purposes of schedule 8. ”. (Paragraph 8 line 4-6) the literal rule is applied here by Mr Lord Justice Ward to gain the natural and ordinary meaning of “dwelling occupied as a home”. Mr Lord Justice Ward was right to use it in this situation as it does not lead to an ‘absurd result’.

    Mr Lord Justice Ward also uses the purposive approach in this case. The purposive approach is where the judge will overlook the literal meaning in order to find the intentions of parliament when they made the act. The purposive approach is arguably the most flexible statutory interpretation technique. In this example the judge uses it to help decide if the respondents two properties could be regarded as one dwelling. Lord Justice Ward states “states ‘Paragraph 3(6) shows that the draftsman had in mind “(Paragraph 22 line 3).

    This comment shows he used the purposive approach as the judge is looking past the words literal meaning and trying to see what the draftsman had in mind when drafting the act. The purposive approach is then used again by Lord Justice Ward later on, he states “‘I would test this by applying a purposive construction. The purpose of these provisions is surely to provide benefits for those in need. ’ (Paragraph 32 line 1-2). In this text he states that he is using a purposive construction as opposed to other techniques in order not to achieve an ‘absurd result’.

    Mr Justice Ward also uses the golden rule in this case. The golden rule is an extension of the literal rule, it is used when the literal rule will cause an ‘absurd result’ . The golden rule looks at the other meanings of certain words then applies it in order to avoid an ‘absurd result’. Lord Justice Ward says “Common sense dictates that the court can construe the words in a way which does not make them unworkable or impractical” (Paragraph29 line 1-2). In this text he says that common sense should be used in order to avoid an ‘absurd result’. Mr Lord Justice ward uses noscitur a sociis.

    This rule of language is where the meaning of a word can be found by looking at the company it keeps. Lord Justice Ward states “Because the single word is expanded into a phrase “dwelling occupied as the home” I am given the impression that the legislature intended to convey the function to be served by the concept of a dwelling rather than to connote its constituent elements. ” (Paragraph 25 lines 8-10). In this quote it is evident that he has used the words around “dwelling” to help define the word, he uses the whole phrase “dwelling occupied as the home”.

    Explain, in your own words, the ratio decidendi of Secretary of state for Works and pensions v Dole (2003) Ratio Decidendi is translated as “the reason for the decision” and is used to refer to the rationale behind a decision in a case. The judge used a variety of techniques to try and decide what the draftsman intention was when writing the act, he was able to do this because the word “dwelling” was vague. He decided in the end that the two separate houses should be regarded as a “single dwelling”. “These houses together were as much part of a single home as are the upstairs and downstairs of any house. ” (Paragraph 4 lines 12-14).

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    Legal Method Coursework. (2016, Nov 20). Retrieved from

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