Interpreting Legislation Quiz

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30 Questions

What is the term used for South African common law?

Roman-Dutch law

How can common law be changed if there is no statutory law on the subject?

By original legislation

What does indigenous law in South Africa refer to?

Traditional law of the indigenous black people

What is case law also known as?

Judicial precedent

What principle means that judgments of higher courts bind lower courts and courts of equal status?

Stare decisis

What role does statute law (legislation) play in common-law legal systems?

Ever-increasing role

Why do we need special rules of interpretation in law?

To make sense of the total relevant legislative scheme applicable to the situation at hand.

What did Professor Lon Fuller illustrate with a hypothetical example during the 1950s?

The inherent difficulties of language (words) in legislation.

What common sense understanding can be derived from a law that criminalizes sleeping in railway stations?

The law is intended to prevent homeless people from using railway stations as shelters.

Why is interpreting legislation more than a mere reading of provisions?

It involves addressing issues such as morality, poverty, and power (value judgements).

How does Professor Lon Fuller's example challenge the simplicity of applying laws?

It raises uncomfortable questions about morality, poverty, and power.

What does the hypothetical example of sleeping in railway stations demonstrate about language in legislation?

It shows the complexities and ambiguities that can arise from seemingly simple laws.

What skills are required for interpreting legislation?

Excellent language skills and very good knowledge of the law

Why is interpreting legislation not easy, quick, or mechanical?

It requires research, reading reported cases, analyzing Acts and regulations, and keeping up with new developments in the law.

How should the court interpret and apply the legislation?

The court cannot read the legislation in a literal sense.

What must an interpreter do when interpreting a provision in an Act of Parliament?

Read the provision with the rest of the Act, including its definition section and schedules.

What does section 11 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution guarantee?

The right to life, but not immortality.

What external aids can be used to establish the meaning of legislation?

Dictionaries or commission reports

In the case of S v Makwanyane 1995 (3) SA 391 (CC), what decision did the Constitutional Court make?

The death penalty was declared unconstitutional.

What challenges may interpreters face in interpreting legislation?

Results of poor drafting, conflicting provisions, or a lack of resources to research the current law.

Is it an absurd interpretation of the right to life to guarantee immortality?

Yes, it is absurd since immortality is a biological impossibility.

Why is keeping up to date with new developments in the law important for interpreters?

To ensure accurate interpretation and application of the law.

What does the right to life, as stated in the Constitution, mean?

It means that the state may not take a person's life in retribution.

Does the decision in S v Makwanyane 1995 (3) SA 391 (CC) imply that a person may not be killed in self-defence?

No, the decision does not prohibit killing in self-defence.

What significant change in the interpretation of statutes occurred with the introduction of the interim Constitution in South Africa?

The principle of parliamentary sovereignty was replaced by constitutional supremacy.

How did the interim Constitution impact the rules of statutory interpretation?

It influenced the rules of statutory interpretation by requiring the consideration of fundamental human rights.

What significant event took place on 4 February 1997 in South Africa regarding constitutional law?

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, came into operation.

What critical aspect of the debate about the protection of fundamental human rights emerged after the commencement of the interim Constitution?

The correct method of statutory and constitutional interpretation became a central point of discussion.

How did the introduction of the interim Constitution affect the traditional principle of parliamentary sovereignty in South Africa?

It replaced parliamentary sovereignty with constitutional supremacy.

What key element must be taken into account by the courts during the interpretation of statutes post the introduction of the interim Constitution?

The spirit and purport of fundamental rights.

Test your knowledge on how courts interpret and apply legislation. Explore the nuances of reading laws beyond their literal meaning, considering historical context, and surrounding circumstances.

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