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statute, act, intention and meaning

PREAMBLE. An introduction prefixed to a statute, reciting the intention of the legis lature in framing it, or the evils which led to its enactment. It is no part of the law; Erie & N. E. R. v. Casey, 26 Pa. 287. Contra, [1891] A. C. 543. It is no more than a re cital of some inconveniences, which does not exclude any other, for which a remedy is given by the enacting part of the statute. Resort cannot be had to the preamble of a statute to ascertain the intention of an act unless there is an ambiguity in the enact ing part. Effect should be given to a pre amble to the extent that it shows what the legislature intended, and if the words of enactment have a meaning which does not go beyond that preamble, or which may come up to the preamble, in either case that meaning should be preferred to one which shows an intention of the legislature which would not answer the purposes of the preamble or would go beyond them. To that extent only is the preamble material; 8 App. Cas. 388. The clear language of an act cannot be cut down by a reference to the preamble ; 29 Ch. D. 950. It may ex plain what is of doubtful meaning, but will not limit what is clear ; Tripp v. Goff, 15 R. I. 299, 3 Atl. 591; Wilson v. Spaulding, 19 Fed. 304.

A preamble is said to be the key of a statute, to open the minds of the makers as to the mischiefs which are to be remedied and the objects which are to be accomplished by the provisions of the statute; Co. 4th

Inst. 330 ; Green v. Neal, 6 Pet. (U. S.) 301, 8 L. Ed. 402. In modern legislative prac tice, preambles are much less used than for merly, and in some of the states are rarely inserted in statutes. In the interpretation of a statute, though resort may be had to the preamble, it cannot limit or control the express provisions of the statute; Dwarris, Stat. 504; Wilberf. Stat. Law 277. Nor can it by implication enlarge what is expressly fixed; 1 Story, Const. b. 3, c. 6; Bynum v. Clark, 3 McCord (S. C.) 298, 15 Am. Dec. 633; Jackson v. Gilchrist, 15 Johns. (N. Y.) 89.

A preamble reciting existence of pub lic outrages, provision against which is made in the body of the act, is evidence of the facts it recites. See 4 Maule & S. 532 ; 2 Russ. Cr. 720.

The facts recited in a preamble of a pri vate statute are not evidence, as between the person for whose benefit the act passed and a third person; Parmelee v. Thompson, 7 Hill (N. Y.) 80; but the statement of legislative reasons in the preamble will not affect the validity of an act; Lothrop v. Stedman, 42 Conn. 583, Fed. Cas. No. 8,519.


A recital inserted in a contract for the purpose of declaring the intention of the parties.