Statutory Interpretation Law and Legal Definition

Statutory interpretation is the act or process of interpreting and applying legislation. It is the principles developed by courts for interpreting statutes. This is also referred to as statutory construction. Sometimes the words of a statute have a plain and straightforward meaning. But in most cases, there is some ambiguity or vagueness in the words of the statute which needs to be resolved by the judge. Various tools and methods of statutory interpretation, including traditional canons of statutory interpretation, legislative history, and purpose are used by the judges for finding the meanings of statutes. The four rules used for interpretation are the literal rule, the golden rule, the mischief rule and the purposive approach.

Every question of statutory interpretation starts with the language of the statute. "The primary indication of [Congress'] intent is the language of the statute." [United States v. Aguilar, 21 F.3d 1475, 1480 (9th Cir. 1994)]. Two well-established canons of statutory interpretation:. First, courts must ascertain the intent of the Legislature to effectuate the purpose of the law [DuBois v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd. (1993) 5 Cal.4th 382, 387)]; Second, they must adopt an interpretation that avoids an absurd result the Legislature did not intend. [Bruce v. Gregory (1967) 65 Cal.2d 666, 673.]