UCL Faculty of Laws


Online Course | Interpreting Statutes and Regulations

14 November 2022–17 November 2022, 9:30 am–12:30 pm

Statute books on shelf

Richard Calnan will explain how statutes and regulations are interpreted in legal practice in this condensed 9-hour course held over four morning sessions between 14th – 17th November.

Event Information

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UCL Laws Events

About this course

As the volume of statute law continues to increase, lawyers spend much of their time reading - and trying to understand - the statutes and regulations which affect us all.

The purpose of this course is to explain how statutes and regulations are interpreted. That may sound straightforward. Surely we just read the words? But the cases show how difficult it can be in practice. Interpretation is ultimately a judgemental exercise, but the judgement needs to be made in accordance with the rule of law, and that means it must be made with an understanding of the principles of statutory interpretation. This course will explain what those principles are and how they are applied in practice.

The course is primarily aimed at lawyers - whether they are in private practice or work in-house or in universities or government  - but it is also of relevance to non-lawyers.

Each seminar will concentrate on a small number of cases in order to understand how the principles of statutory interpretation work in practice. We will make the seminars as interactive as possible and we will encourage those attending to engage in a discussion of the rights and wrongs of the cases.

We will also examine the similarities and differences between statutory and contractual interpretation. Comparing statutory interpretation with contractual interpretation helps us to understand them both better.

This course will be held virtually on zoom over four morning sessions from 09:30 – 12:30 from 14th to 17th November. You will have a total of 30 minutes comfort breaks throughout each session of this course.
The seminars will cover the following topics:

Monday 14th November
Seminar 1: The Problem (14 November)

We will discuss a few contrasting cases which illustrate the problems of statutory interpretation and we will then discuss the guiding principle of interpretation.
Seminar 2: The Text (14 November)
What is the text of a statute? Can the interpreter imply words or change them? It is commonplace that statutes must be read as a whole, but what does that mean in practice?

Tuesday 15th November
Seminars 3 and 4: The Context

Like any document, the words of a statute need to be read in context. But what counts as context and what can it be used for? How does it differ from contractual interpretation?

Wednesday 16th November
Seminars 5 and 6: Natural Meanings

The starting point for the interpretation of the words in a statute is to give them their natural and ordinary meaning in context. But what does that mean in practice, and how is it affected by the requirement to give the words a purposive interpretation?

Thursday 17th November -
Seminars 7 and 8: Ambiguities and Absurdities

When the words of a statute are ambiguous, the interpreter has a choice to make. How is that done? And in what circumstances can the interpreter reject the natural meaning of clear words because they do not make sense or because they create an absurdity? How does the approach differ from contractual interpretation? How is it affected by the human rights legislation? And to what extent will the European approach to interpretation survive Brexit?

About the presenter

Richard Calnan is a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP in London and a Visiting Professor at University College London.
He is the author of Taking Security (LexisNexis, fourth edition 2018), Proprietary Rights and Insolvency (Oxford University Press, second edition 2016) and Principles of Contractual Interpretation (Oxford University Press, second edition 2017). His book on Principles of Statutory Interpretation is due to be published by Oxford University Press later in 2022.

Fees and How to book your place

Standard Fee: £600
Group Standard Fee: £500
UCL Alumni: £500
Goverment legal / Academic / NGOs: £300
Non-UCL Students: £150
UCL Laws Students - please complete this form for your fee free place.

Book your place online at https://ucl-interpreting-statutes-regulations-oct22.eventbrite.co.uk

Corporate bookings: If you would like to book a place and be invoiced for the fees please email lisa.penfold@ucl.ac.uk