strict construction

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Strict construction is a form of judicial interpretation of a statute. The fundamental principle behind this construction is that the text of a provision in a statute should be applied as it is written (see also: statutory construction). Such a form of construction is the opposite of liberal construction, where the doctrine of reasonability and fairness is applied while interpreting to satisfy the overlying objective and intent of the statute. 

In Criminal Law, application of strict construction is paramount, as it compliments the rule of lenity that limits the scope of statutory interpretation in penal statutes. When exact meaning is given to the language of a provision, without considering other reasonable implications, it is hence referred to as strict construction.  

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]