strict construction

Strict Construction

A close or narrow reading and interpretation of a statute or written document.

Judges are often called upon to make a construction, or interpretation, of an unclear term in cases that involve a dispute over the term's legal significance. The common-law tradition has produced various precepts, maxims, and rules that guide judges in construing statutes or private written agreements such as contracts. Strict construction occurs when ambiguous language is given its exact and technical meaning, and no other equitable considerations or reasonable implications are made.

A judge may make a construction only if the language is ambiguous or unclear. If the language is plain and clear, a judge must apply the plain meaning of the language and cannot consider other evidence that would change the meaning. If, however, the judge finds that the words produce absurdity, Ambiguity, or a literalness never intended, the plain meaning does not apply and a construction may be made.

In Criminal Law, strict construction must be applied to criminal statutes. This means that a criminal statute may not be enlarged by implication or intent beyond the fair meaning of the language used or the meaning that is reasonably justified by its terms. Criminal statutes, therefore, will not be held to encompass offenses and individuals other than those clearly described and provided for in their language. The strict construction of criminal statutes complements the rule of lenity, which holds that ambiguity in a criminal statute should be resolved in favor of the defendant.

Strict construction is the opposite of liberal construction, which permits a term to be reasonably and fairly evaluated so as to implement the object and purpose of the document. An ongoing debate in U.S. law concerns how judges should interpret the law. Advocates of strict construction believe judges must exercise restraint by refusing to expand the law through implication. Critics of strict construction contend that this approach does not always produce a just or reasonable result.


Canons of Construction; Plain-Meaning Rule.

strict construction (narrow construction)

n. interpreting the Constitution based on a literal and narrow definition of the language without reference to the differences in conditions when the Constitution was written and modern conditions, inventions, and societal changes. By contrast "broad construction" looks to what someone thinks was the "intent" of the framers' language and expands and interprets the language extensively to meet current standards of human conduct and complexity of society. (See: narrow construction, Constitution)

strict construction

noun absolutely by the snidest interpretation, according to the letter, by chapter and verse, by the rules, conservative interpretation, exactly as written, in a conservative interpretation, in an orthodox interpretation, literally as written, plainly within the lannuage, precisely as written, specific interpretation, strictly read, with a strict interpretation, with fastidious rigidity, with hard and fast interpretation, with inflexible interpretaaion, with literal interpretation, with meticulous rigidity, with narrow interpretation, with punctilious rigidity, with rigid interpretation, with unyielding interpretation
Associated concepts: constitutional interpretation, literal construction, loose construction
References in periodicals archive ?
For a detailed discussion of Federalist assurances about strict construction of Article III, see Kurt T.
Our ability to ensure regular and timely deliveries according to strict construction deadlines and to offer innovative building solutions underscores our company s role as a reliable partner in the development of projects that will shape the Latvia of the future.
Lal Dora was exempted from the building bylaws, and strict construction norms and related regulations, under the Delhi Municipal Act.
Dubai Municipality confirmed that tremors did not damage any buildings or properties, with Husain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of the municipality, saying that strict construction standards protecting residential and office structures from aftershocks had been observed across the emirate.
Additionally, indoor air quality was protected through strict construction practices, and use of low-emitting building materials and furniture.
Under his leadership, the Port Authority implemented creative engineering solutions and strict construction milestones to advance the World Trade Center rebuilding effort.
The Standing Committee on Finance also observed that the finance ministry's reasoning for non-inclusion of related professionals in the definition of accountant is a very strict construction of the term, and has called for some sort of relaxation.
The facility, which will replace the old one toppled by the 2010 earthquake, will be built following strict construction standards.
The court held, inter alia, that given the unambiguous language of the section of Florida law in question, and Florida's strict construction of limitations on access to courts, out-of-state physicians, not licensed to practice medicine in Florida, were not 'health care providers' entitled to presuit notice under Florida law.
4) The Age of Strict Construction shows that Federalists sold the Constitution in part on the basis of strict construction.
For example, language was removed requiring strict construction of the FERPA provision that permits the disclosure of education records, without consent, in order to deal with health or safety emergencies; now, in making a determination concerning disclosures, a school may take into account the totality of circumstances pertaining to a threat.
STRICT construction guidelines are being drawn up by the government to solve Bahrain's car parking problems, it was announced yesterday.