Statutory Interpretation 2
‘The true meaning of a legal text almost always depends on a background of concepts, principles, practices, facts, rights and duties which the authors of the text took for granted or understood, without conscious advertence, by reason of their common language or culture.’McHugh J inTheophanous v Herald & Weekly Times Ltd(1994) 182 CLR 104 at 196.
‘This case is a simple one. The Act means what it says, and, what is more important, it does not mean what it does not say.’Secretary, Department of Health v Harvey(1990) 21 ALD 393 (Meagher JA).
Day 2:In this session we will:
Overview statutory interpretationGeneral Principles:General Method; andCentral Interpretive CriteriaGroup Exercise: Your rule rocks
EGStreet Offences Act 1989
Section One:This Act is intended to prevent solicitation for purposes of prostitution in streets and other public placesSection Two:It shall be an offence for a sex worker to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of sex work.
Kirby J in considering theGaming and Betting Act 1912(NSW):The legislation relevant to the present appeal…does nothing to add to the coherency of this body of law. It is a jumble of ill-matched and poorly integrated enactments:AvelPty Ltd v Attorney-General (NSW) (1987) 11 NSWLR 126.
How do you decipher an Act?
General PrinciplesGeneral MethodCentral Interpretative Criteria
Multifactorial assessment where more than one construction availableNot selective application but a judgment based on all relevant criteriaObject is to determine the intention of the legislatureContext of the provision and legislative purpose
Work up from problems, not one-size-fits allLocate the provisionRead it in contextIdentify relevant and multiple interpretative criteria for the problemCritically analyze how and to what extent those factors assist in the light of the indications of meaning gathered so farCompare constructions – make a judgment as to which carries more weight and is to be regarded as expressing the legal meaning
Central Interpretative Criteria
Intrinsic guides of the provision and Act concernedThe relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory Interpretation ActActsInterpretation Act 1901(CTH)Interpretation Act 1987(NSW)Interpretative requirements of other relevant Acts of application such as a Charter of RightsPre-existing, related or similar statutes and common law doctrinesInterpretative principles and presumptions developed by courts including the principle of legality; presumption againstretrospectivity; implied repealExtrinsic materialsPrecedent in comparable casesOther contextual factors include the effect of any alternative construction (absurdity or injustice)
Section 15AAActs Interpretation Act 1901(CTH):In interpreting a provision of an Act, the interpretation that would best achieve the purpose or object of the Act (whether or not that purpose or object is expressly stated in the Act) is to be preferred each other interpretation.Ieif two constructions – choose the best one that would fit the purpose.Section 33Interpretation Act 1987(NSW) - may
Parliamentary debatesExecutive documentsCommission and committee reportsInternational agreementsLimitation: Section 15ABActs Interpretation Act 1901(CTH) – lists materials that can be taken into account if provision is ambiguous or ordinary meaning produces an absurd result.
Common Law Approaches
Literal- plain and ordinary meaning of words ‘even if we think the result to be inconvenient or impolitic or improbable’:Amalgamated Society of Engineers v Adelaide Steamship Co Ltd(1920) 28 CLR 129 161-2Golden Rule:Depart from the ordinary (or grammatical) meaning to avoid an absurd result:Grey v Pearson(1857) 6 HLCas61,106Purposive:Determinethe purpose of Parliament in passing legislation or the particular provision inquestion. Originsin themischief rule:Heydon’sCase(1584) 3 Co Rep 7a, 7b.
Context in Legislation
Interpretation with reference to accompanying wordsInterpretation with reference to other parts of legislation – title, preamble, definitions, headings, schedulesetcInterpretation legislationDictionaries okConsistent use of words is assumedAll words assumed to carry meaningWords should be interpreted in accordance with current meaningExpress mention may draw attention to absence elsewhereProvisions may be interpreted with reference to other legislationProvisions may be interpreted with reference tothe audienceProvisions may be interpreted with reference toexisting law
Presumptions Used in Interpreting Legislation
Statutes do not operate retrospectivelyParliament does not interfere with common law rightsParliament does not abrogate the privilege against self-incriminationParliament does not abrogate legal professional privilegeParliament does not deprive people of access to the courtsRe-enactment of a provision constitutes approval for a previous judicial interpretation of a provisionLegislation does not bind the crownPenal provisions are strictly construedProperty rights are not taken away without compensationLegislation does not have extraterritorial effectParliament intends to legislate in conformity with international lawThese are rebuttable – only where there is ‘clear and unambiguous words’:Durham Holdings Pty Ltd v New South Wales(1999) 47 NSWLR 340, 353-4.
Your statutory interpretation rule is the best, Why? (Groups of 2-3)
What is the tool?How is it used?Why does it rule?Lookup commentaryLook up journal articlesLook up case lawIs legislation relevant?Argue your case in 4mins
In Conclusion: Statutory interpretation
Multifactorial assessmentStatute guidanceCommon lawpresumptionsExtrinsic and intrinsic aids