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The judge would not grant Mrs Berimann compensation for her husbands death as the relevant act only stated look out points had to be issued for workers ‘relaying’ or ‘repairing’ the line.
Under the wider approach the courts are granted the right to “modify the words in order to avoid a problem”, this situation arises where there is an obvious and clear meaning but this meaning would lead to an absurd result.
There are said to be 2 approaches to this rule, the narrow and wide approach.
Under the Narrow approach the court “can only choose between the possible meanings of a word…” i.e.
This rule does not call for further interpretation of an act and directly honours the intentions of the draftsman who wrote it, as stated by Lord Bramwell “…what is such an absurdity that you are to disregard the plain words of an Act of Parliament” in Hill V.
East and West India Dock 1884, however it does not come without its weaknesses as portrayed in the following cases. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Diane Blood was refused the right to be inseminated using her deceased spouse’s sperm.
In order to overcome unjust and absurd outcomes the Golden Rule was introduced as a “modification of the literal rule”.