What aids are available to the courts when concerned with interpretation of statute

An intrinsic analysis of a statute and the statutory context that surrounds it is based upon the construction of statute bearing in mind the language used, as also the level of harmony of the statutory element in the content of the body of law of which it forms a part1. Therefore, the content of the statute will be considered in relation to other enacting words used in the statute, which will serve to indicate the purpose of the legislation in question, so that if interpretation of one section appears absurd in connection with other sections, it will not hold good.This is referred to as the rule of noscitur a sociis, according to which the words that make up a statute are to be interpreted in the light of the context within which they appear, or where the meaning of the words will be known by its associated words2. For example, according to Stamp J, English words derive color from those which surround them. Sentences are not mere collections of words to be taken out of the sentence, defined separately….3 A sentence from a statute cannot be interpreted in isolation, but must be interpreted taking into account the general context or the Ejusdem Generis – material belonging to the same genus.4Such an intrinsic interpretation of a statute was taken up in the case of People (Attorney general) v Kennedy.5 In this instance, the statute that required interpretation was Section 79 of the Courts of Justice Act of 1924. This provision allowed for a right to appeal without spelling out any specific limitations on who could actually bring such an appeal. Therefore, taken out of context and interpreted independently, this would have implied that a range of persons could bring an appeal. But by interpreting the statute in the light of its associated words and the general context of the Act, the Court held that there was an inherent limitation in Section 79, limiting the appeal to the accused person only. In this case, Black J stated that: A