Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twenty-Fourth Report


Memorandum by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food


  1. The Committee, by letter of 23rd June 1999 has requested that the Ministry submit a memorandum on the following point:

      Regulations 2(2), 2(3) and 2(4) contain interpretation provisions which are qualified (in the first case: common expressions) by reference to the context ("in so far as the context admits") or (in the second and third cases: references to Articles or Annexes and numbered regulations or Schedules) by reference to "contrary intention". Explain the exceptions which make these qualifications necessary.

  2. In relation to the first case the Ministry would say that the qualification covers those expressions used in Council Directive 80/777 or 80/778, where, if they were to be used in the Regulations with that meaning. It is submitted that the absence of the qualification would cause interpretation difficulties for the Regulations: for it could be argued, on a literal basis, that in order to interpret the Regulations properly the reader would have to consider each word used in the Regulations which is also used in the Directive and attempt to divine its meaning from its use in the latter, irrespective of its context in the former. With the qualification, what in practice is intended to happen is that the reader of the Regulations need only refer back to the Directive for the meaning of expressions used, but not specifically defined, in the former which appear to be terms of art for the purposes of the specific Directives implemented. As an example, in regulation 1, "Regulations" means Regulations as referred to in the Food Safety Act 1990—one would not look to Article 18. 1 of 80/778 for the meaning of the term, even though this S.I. is the mechanism for implementing the Directive.

  3. With respect to the second case, an exception which makes qualification necessary is the reference in regulation 16 to Article 12.5 of Directive 80/778.

  4. As for the third case, exceptions which make the qualification necessary are the references in regulation 19 to regulation 38 of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 and the reference in regulation 20(1) to Schedule 1 of the Food Safety (Sampling and Qualifications) Regulations 1990, the reference in regulation 20(2) to regulation 2(1) of the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995, and the reference in regulation 20(3) to regulation 2(1) of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.

1st July 1999

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