This essay is focused towards discussing the case of Ravenscroft
v Canal and River Trust 2017 EWHC 1874 (Ch). The essay is divided into
two main parts. The first part aims to develop a case brief of Ravenscroft v
Canal and River Trust 2017 EWHC 1874 (Ch) and the second part aims to critically
discuss the role of statutory interpretation in the High Court’s judgement in
the same case.
Moreover, this essay will also shed light on approach to statutory
interpretation the court employed and whether any aids to construction were
used including the role of any potentially precedent played in the judgement.
Case Brief of Ravenscroft v Canal
and River Trust 2017 EWHC 1874 (Ch)
Name of the Parties: Mr Leigh
Ravenscroft (Claimant) and Canal and River Trust (Defendant)
Citation: 2017 EWHC 1874 (Ch)
Court: The High Court of Justice Chancery Division
Judges: The Hon Mrs Justice Asplin DBE
Facts: In this case, the dispute is between
Mr Leigh Ravenscroft and Canal & River Trust. Mr Leigh Ravenscroft is the
owner of a boat named “The Three Wise Monkeys” while Canal & River
Trust, On 27 January 2015, removed the boat of Mr Leigh Ravenscroft “The
Three Wise Monkeys” from its mooring on the River Trent at Farndon
Ferry, Newark, Nottinghamshire as well as put the board in their storage at
Chester. However, it was returned to Mr Leigh Ravenscroft on the payment of £8,176
on May 6, 2015.
Procedural History: None
Statutory Provision: The proper
construction of the phrase “main navigable channel” in section
4 of the 1971 Act.
(1) True construction of the phrase “main navigable
channel” in section 4 of the 1971 Act as amended. Whether is equivalent to the “fairway”
or “thoroughfare” of the River Trent, the “Three Wise
Monkeys” was not moored within it and there was no power to remove his
boat in the first place.
Obiter Dicta: By way of
background, I was taken to Transport Act 1962 which created four public
authorities including CRT’s predecessor, the BWB. Section 10 provides that it
is the duty of the BWB in the exercise of its powers under the Act, “to
provide to such extent as they may think expedient – (a) services and
facilities on the inland waterways owned or managed by them . . . and to have
due regard to efficiency, economy and safety of operation as respects the
services and facilities provided by them”. Further, by section 43(3),
the CRT and the BWB before it, was empowered to “demand, take and
recover . . . such charges for their services and facilities, and to make the use
of those services and facilities subject to such terms and conditions, as they
Role of Statutory Interpretation
in the High Court’s Judgement in this Case
Canal and River Trust a non-profit-making organisation which was
launched on July 12, 2012, taking the
guardianship of British Waterways canals, rivers reservoirs and docks in
England and Wales. However, these waterways are free to access and open to all,
every day of the year. In contrast, the term “precedent” refers to an earlier
event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in
subsequent similar circumstances. For instance, a precedent case is used for
explaining the current on-going case or for supporting the idea or the context
of the scenario. In simpler words, it can be said that a precedent is on a
general authority or law in a legal system
which is a rule that was established in
the past legal cases which are either binding on a persuasive for a court or
other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases along the facts or issues that
are the same1.
Literal Rule: The literal
rule is utilised for the interpretation of statues while interpreting a statute, the courts often implement the literal rule initially before the
implementation of any other interpretation rule as the words in a statue are
provided with its plain, literal meaning, and ordinary in the literal rule.
Golden Rule: The golden
rule is a basic principle that must be followed always in order to ensure the
success in particular or general activity2.
Apart from that, it is a biblical rule of ‘do as you would be done by’ .
Mischief Approach: The mischief
rule is a principle that is utilised for interpreting a statue. However, this
principle is often used by the courts for determining the legislation
intentions. On the other hand, the main focus of this principle is on
determining the defect and mischief within a statue as well as applies a remedy
for the similar3.
Purposive Rule: The purposive
approach is often referred as purposive construction, purposivism, modern principle, purposive interpretation in
construction that is an approach towards statutory as well as the constitutional
interpretation under which common law courts interpret an enactment4.
The Royal Court of Justice utilised purposive rule as it
makes sense to look at the whole purpose of the act, gives effect to
parliaments intentions, allows judges to use their common sense, it is also
sensible to use external aids like Hansard and allows the judges to consider
social and technological changes. In fact, conditions as to certificates and
licences are contained in the 1995 Act at section 17. It is relevant for these
purposes to note that by section 17 a “relevant consent” which
is defined to include a pleasure boat licence may be refused in respect of
vessels unless three conditions are met. They are: (a) that the vessel complies
with the applicable standards; (b) the vessel is insured and evidence of the
policy is produced; and (c) that there is a mooring where the vessel can be
lawfully kept or the vessel will be used bona fide for navigation and will not
remain continuously in one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as
is reasonable in the circumstances5.
Mr Moore also took me to the Trent Navigation Act 1906 and
to section 46(5) which contained an obligation on “the Company” to
dredge the River Trent between specific points “so as to provide and
maintain a channel of a minimum depth of five feet and of a minimum width of
sixty feet at the bottom” and to ‘keep such channel clear and free
from obstruction . . . which might interfere with or obstruct the navigation”6.
In fact, by section 34 of the Trent Navigation Act 1858, the
“Company” defined as the “Company of Proprietors of the River
Trent Navigation”, the “Navigation” being defined as
“the River Trent from Wilden Ferry in the Counties of Derby and
Leicester, . . . to Gainsborough … and includes the Canal and Side Cuts
constructed …”, was required to:
“cleanse, scour, deepen, enlarge, straighten, contract, improve
and in a good and navigable State and Condition keep, preserve, and maintain by
all necessary and proper works, Ways and Means, the Navigation, so as to enable
Vessels usually navigating thereon to carry a Burthen of Forty Tons at least in
The extent of the River Trent to which section 4 of the 1971 Act
applies was extended by virtue of section 36(2) British Waterways Act 1974 to
“The Trent Navigation from Shardlow towards Meadow Land Lock
tail in Nottingham through the Beeston Canal as well as the Nottingham Canal
part along the river Soar branch including the river Trent’s junction with Nottingham
Canal towards Beeston Weir”7.
When known as the ‘Grandma Molly’, the “Three Wise
Monkeys” had a “pleasure boat” certificate issued by
the BWB. That certificate expired on 30th June 2011. It is not in dispute that
the vessel has not had a pleasure boat certificate or another form of ‘relevant consent’ since. CRT’s evidence (which is
disputed) is that prior to its removal from the River Trent, various notices was served both on the vessel itself and on Mr
Ravenscroft at his last known address but that no response was received8.
As Lord Steyn held in R (Quintavalle) v Secretary of State for
Health 2003 2 AC 687, 700: The pendulum has swung to the purposive methods
of construction. Thus, this change would not start
through the teleological approach of jurisprudence of European Community and
the impact of European legal culture generally, however, it has been
accelerated European ideas that include a
classic early statement of the purposive approach by Lord Blackburn in River
Wear Comrs v Adamson (1877) 2 App Cas 743,
Eventually, the shift nowadays towards the purposive interpretation is obvious.
Moreover, the qualification is liberality degree which is affected by the
context such as social welfare legislation including the tax statutes that might have somewhat approached in
a different way10.
50 Term “context” reflects the context of legislation as
well as the context of a policy that is
shown in the admissible material like the reports by Law Commission, travaux
préparatoires, explanatory notes accompanying legislation and Hansard in
certain cases. Courts will not speculate as to Parliament’s purpose, though
they may infer it from (for example) the indications provided in the
legislation itself. In this particular case, we have not been taken to any
material outside the 1993 Act11. Section
43(8) provides that:
“The facilities including the services towards the subsection
(3) of this section involve in the British Waterways Board case regarding the
use of an inland waterway that is managed
or owned by them through any of the boat or ship”12.
After reviewing the case of Ravenscroft
v Canal and River Trust 2017 EWHC 1874 (Ch) and developing the case brief
along the critical discussion regarding the interpretation method of statutory,
it can be concluded that the High Court of Justice Chancery Division under the
supervision of the Hon Mrs Justice Asplin DBE held the case appropriately and
utilised the most effective and essential method “Purposive Rule” for
the interpretation of the statutory relevant to the case of Ravenscroft v Canal
and River Trust which in result drawn a logical decision and justice for both
the parties according to the law along the supporting cases and legislations.
Moreton-Robinson, Aileen M. “The possessive logic of patriarchal white
sovereignty: The High Court and the Yorta Yorta decision.” Borderlands
e-journal 3.2 (2004).
Amitai. New Golden Rule. HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
3 Nelson, Caleb.
Statutory Interpretation. Foundation Press Thomson/West, 2011.
4 Ibid 15.
5 Ibid 1.
Urquhart Atwell, and W. H. R. Ashford. Our waterways: a history of inland
navigation considered as a branch of water conservancy. J. Murray, 1906.
7 Stephens, S.
R., et al. “Towards the characterisation of heavy metals in dredged canal
sediments and an appreciation of ‘availability’: two examples from the
UK.” Environmental Pollution 113.3 (2001): 395-401.
8 Ibid 1.
9 River Wear
Case, 2 App. 743 (1877).
Roderick. “Interpretation of Legislation in England: The Expanding Quest
for Parliamentary Intention.” Rabels Zeitschrift fuer auslaendisches und Internationales
Privatrecht 75.4 (2011): 764-786.
11 R v. Secretary
of State for Health ex p. Imperial Tobacco, 2000 E.C.R. 1 (2000).