Dalhousie Law Journal


Statutory interpretation, outline of method, judge-made law, legislative enactment, common law, legislative in character


We are moving ever more surely and deeply these days into an age of legislation. In the past, judge-made law was the dominant feature, as it was also the matrix, the fundamental and pervasive stuff, of our legal system. Statutes were scattered islands in the ocean of common law. For some time they were regarded by the courts as peculiar incursions on the system, troubling the harmony of caselaw patterns. A legislative enactment was seen, in the words of the late Chief Justice Stone, as an "alien intruder in the house of the common law." But change has come and is currently at work at an astonishing pace. The islands of legislation have become much more numerous; they have become archipelagoes in some areas. The islands have grown in size; some are almost continents. What once seemed a peculiar incursion has become normal and pervasive. Statutes can no longer be regarded as intruders. As more and more common law is displaced, overlaid or supplemented, the system is becoming legislative in character.

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Legislation Commons