What is the unified contextual approach
An explanation of what the unified contextual approach is, and how it is used to interpret legal provisions.
What is the unified contextual approach?
This is an approach used to interpret statutory provisions. With this approach, the ordinary or technical meaning of the words is given, when taking into account the general context of the legal instrument. Furthermore, the extent of words that are general needs to be determined by the judge, and if he/she deems that the application of such words in their ordinary meaning will be equal to producing an effect that is contrary to the purpose of the statute, then these words may be applied in another secondary meaning that such words are capable of having (Wilson, 2016).
However, with the above said, the judge may, if necessary, read in words considered by him/her to be implied by already existing words in the legal instrument, and has a limited power to alter, ignore or add to such statutory words. This is undertaken with the view of preventing a legal provision from being unreasonable, unworkable or extensively irreconcilable with the rest of the legal instrument. It must be noted here that a judge must also interpret legal provisions and give effect to such provisions, in so far as possible, in manner that is compatible with European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights 1950.
Steve Wilson, Helen Rutherford, Tony Storey, Natalie Wortley, 2016, English Legal System, (OUP: Oxford)
European Convention on Human Rights 1950