A Case, a Statute, and Some Thoughts on the Proper Role of Policy

This short Article written in memory of Tony Weir considers a broad general theme reflected in his own work: the importance for the development of law, in the face of competing policy arguments, of never losing sight of principle. Case law clearly brings out the tension between principle and policy. But the proper role of policy also underlies issues of statutory interpretation. By way of example the Article looks at one case and one statute. It suggests that before weighing up countervailing policies, it is important to pay close attention to the underlying structure and principles of case law. Similarly, while a statute itself represents the policy determination of a democratically elected legislature, when the intention of the legislator is unclear, there remains a vital role for statutory construction firmly anchored in the words of the enactment.