A common feature of statutes is for the legislature to state its intent regarding how courts and the judicial branch should “liberally construe” the statutory provisions adopted by the legislative branch of government. By my count, there are over 250 such statutes in the California Codes, running the gambit from the Business & Professions Code to the Water Code. Many of these code sections use the same language, but there are variations, all containing the phrase “liberally construed.”
The following statutes are examples of these variations utilizing the Legislature’s stated intent for a statute to be liberally construed:
Streets & Highways Code Section 31518 regarding the Vehicle Parking District Law of 1943: This part shall be liberally construed.
Water Code Section 1248 regarding liability within a watershed: This article shall be liberally construed.
Government Code Section 38001 regarding the Park and Playground Act of 1909: This chapter shall be liberally construed to promote its objects.
Financial Code Section 31001 regarding business and industrial development corporations: This division shall be liberally construed to accomplish its purposes.
Government Code Section 6578 regarding the power to issue revenue bonds: This article shall be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes.
Government Code Section 12603 regarding environmental actions by the Attorney General: This article shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes.
Education Code Section 21154 regarding Institutions of Arts and Sciences: The provisions of this article shall be liberally construed, with a view to effect its objects and purposes.
Food & Agriculture Code Section 5508 regarding roadside vegetation control: This chapter shall be liberally construed to accomplish its purposes and objectives.
Business & Professions Code Section 17002 regarding unfair trade practices: This chapter shall be liberally construed that its beneficial purposes may be subserved.
Do the state’s courts have to accept these statements of legislative intent? No, but they are more often than not cited by the courts to support their interpretation of what the Legislature intended when the courts interpret statutes.
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