( Ante, October 30, 1902, 40 S.L.R. 82, and 5 F. 48.)
Subject_Entail — Provisions — Widow — Free Yearly Rental — Deductions — “Burdens” — Upkeep — Management — Restriction of Widow's Annuity — Statute — Construction — Entail Provisions Act 1824 (Aberdeen Act) (5 Geo. IV. c. 87), sec. 1.
In a petition presented by an heir of entail in possession for the restriction of a liferent annuity granted by his predecessor to his widow under the Entail Provisions Act 1824 (Aberdeen Act), held ( aff. judgment of the Second Division) that the petitioner was not entitled, for the purpose of calculating the amount of the annuity as allowed by the Act, to deduct from the gross rental the expenses of (1) upkeep of estate buildings and fences, and (2) management and superintendence of the estate.
This case is reported ante ut supra.
The petitioner and reclaimer, the Earl of Galloway, appealed to the House of Lords.
Counsel for the respondent, the Dowager Countess of Galloway, were not called on.
At delivering judgment—
As I have said, I think the discussion lies within very narrow limits, and I am not disposed to extend those limits. I am very loth to get out of the actual language of the statute into what may be considered more reasonable provisions, if one were drawing the statute oneself. Such phrases as are here selected by the Legislature seem to me intentionally to exclude the deductions which are insisted upon. I do not mean to say that it is a conclusive argument against a construction of a statute to say that the Legislature might have used clearer words if they had intended such and such to be the construction. I am afraid one cannot always say that statutes are passed with such a degree of logical precision that that argument is conclusive. But when you have the Legislature here selecting words which I think it cannot be denied are in their ordinary acceptation inappropriate to the deductions now claimed, and when the thing meant according to the construction contended for by the appellant was so obviously capable of being very readily expressed in simple language, such as “deducting all reasonable outgoings,” or something of that sort, an argument may be drawn from the absence of such words, and the special emphasis which the statute appears to place on the word “burdens,” “the yearly amount of other burdens of what nature soever affecting and burdening the said lands and estates.” I cannot help thinking that language of that sort must have been used intentionally, and must have been used with the intention of excluding the very thing we are discussing. One need not go further into the inquiry when one has come to the conclusion that those words do not include the deductions claimed, but I can conceive that it may have been in the mind of the Legislature that to use such phrases as “reasonable outgoings and expenditure upon the estate” might introduce an amount of litigation on these questions which it was not desirable in the interests of the State should be promoted.
However that may be, I only make that observation in passing to enforce what I consider to be the canon of construction of a statute. I am always disposed to read a statute very strictly. I must take the language as it is, and taking it in the sense in which any lawyer, Scotch or English, reading those words would interpret them, I think these deductions would not fall within it. That really is the whole of my reasoning upon the subject. I am governed by the force of the language itself; I cannot go out of it; I do not desire to go out of it. What has been suggested, and very fairly suggested, as a more reasonable statute to pass, is not a guide to the interpretation of this statute which is passed. I must therefore adhere to the language of the statute as it is, and under those circumstances I think your Lordships ought to affirm the judgment of the Court below and dismiss the appeal with costs.
On the appellant's other argument I shall only say one word. The word “free” seems to me to do no more than describe the sum to be handled after deduction of the burdens, which are enumerated in more or less comprehensive
Appeal dismissed with costs.
Counsel for the Petitioner, Reclaimer, and Appellant—Solicitor-General for Scotland ( Dundas, K.C.)— Blackburn. Agents— Grahames, Currey, & Spens, Westminster— Russell & Dunlop, W.S., Edinburgh.
Counsel for the Respondent—Lord Advocate ( Dickson, K.C.)— Cullen. Agents— Nicholson, Patterson, & Freeland, London— Strathern & Blair, W.S., Edinburgh.