Magor and St Mellons Rural District Council -v- Newport Corporaion; HL 1951

The Court of Appeal had tried to fill in the gaps in a statute where parliament had intended an effect.
Held: Rights to compensation are well capable of falling within the definition of ‘property of a company’ in the relevant provisions of the Corporations Law. The courts should ‘construe very narrowly any substantive or procedural barriers against having recourse to courts for the rectifying of wrongs’. However, in the construction of a statute the duty of the court is limited to interpreting the words used by the legislature and it has no power to fill any gaps disclosed. To do so would be to usurp the function of the legislature. Referring to the speech of Lord Denning MR, Lord Simonds said that: ‘It appears to me to be a naked usurpation of the legislative function under the thin disguise of interpretation.’
Lord Simonds said:’The duty of the court is to interpret the words that the legislature has used; those words may be ambiguous, but, even if they are, the power and duty of the court to travel outside them on a voyage of discovery are strictly limited. If a gap is disclosed, the remedy lies in an amending Act and not in a

Court: HL
Date: 01-Jan-1951
Judges: Lord Simonds
References: [1951] 2 All ER 839, [1952] AC 189
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