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The Coherence of Statutory Interpretation

The Coherence of Statutory Interpretation

By Jeffrey Barnes (editors)

Statutory interpretation — the law governing the determination of the meaning and effect of legislation — is a major area of law. Indeed, with the rise of legislation as a source of law, it has come to dominate legal practice. This book critically examines, from multiple perspectives, the coherence of the principles and practice of statutory interpretation.

Constitutions Interpretation 

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  • Full description

    Statutory interpretation — the law governing the determination of the meaning and effect of legislation — is a major area of law. Indeed, with the rise of legislation as a source of law, it has come to dominate legal practice. Yet statutory interpretation has sometimes been derided by commentators. Is this criticism fair? Is the law in a state of disrepair? Or have its strengths and its inherent limitations been overlooked? This book critically examines, from multiple perspectives, the coherence of the principles and practice of statutory interpretation. The main questions it addresses are: is the law coherent and if so, what are those respects? And if in certain respects it is not coherent, how and why has this come about?

    Specifically, the book examines whether statutory interpretation has constitutional foundations and whether these lend coherence. It explores whether legislative drafting can anticipate statutory interpretation and whether this background aids coherence. It asks whether statutory interpretation has a coherent overall method. And it examines several important aspects of statutory interpretation to see whether reliance on them aids coherence. These aspects include the text of legislation, and whether it limits the judicial role; the presumption that Parliament intends the legislative purpose be promoted; Acts Interpretation Acts; and objects provisions.

    The contributions to the collection are written by distinguished commentators with expertise in statutory interpretation, including judges, barristers, Crown Counsel, parliamentary counsel, and academics.

    Examining coherence has the potential to bring significant benefits to the law and the wider community. To the extent the law of interpretation is found to be coherent, the examination increases the confidence in the judiciary and the administration of the law. To the extent it is not coherent, it produces material for consideration as to its improvement.

  • About the author

    Dr Jeffrey Barnes is a Senior Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Legislation, Its Interpretation and Drafting at the La Trobe School of Law, La Trobe University. He has a wide experience in legislation and its interpretation. He is a former Parliamentary Counsel, Associate to Justice Michael Kirby at the Australian Law Reform Commission, Project Officer with the Administrative Review Council and Member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. He has taught statutory interpretation for a number of years and has published extensively in that field. He has assisted a number of government agencies in developing their skills in this area. He assisted the Law Admissions Consultative Committee in developing their Statement on Statutory Interpretation (2010). He was the lead author of the Council of Australian Law Deans Good Practice Guide to Teaching Statutory Interpretation (2015). With the Head of the School of Law, Professor Patrick Keyzer, he convened a symposium on statutory interpretation from which this collection has originated.

  • Product details

    ISBN: 9781760022099

    Published: 2019

    Format: Hardcover

  • Table of contents

    Preface 
    About the Contributors 
    Table of Cases 
    Table of Statutes

    PART I – Introduction

    1. Opening Remarks  
                  The Honourable Kenneth Hayne AC

    PART II – Constitutional Perspectives

    2. Constitutional Principles and Coherence in Statutory Interpretation 
                  Justice Nye Perram 
    3. Division of Constitutional Power and Responsibilities and Coherence in the Interpretation of Statutes 
                  Guy Aitken 
    4. The Coherence of Statutory Interpretation: A Commentary 
                  Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE GBM QC

    PART III – Drafting Perspectives

    5. The Coherence of Statutory Interpretation: Drafting Perspectives 
                  Eamonn Moran PSM QC 
    6. Judges v Drafters: The Saga Continues 
                  Helen Xanthaki 
    7. The Coherence of Statutory Interpretation: Commentary 
                  Daniel Greenberg

    PART IV – Overall Method

    8. Is there an Overall Method to Interpreting Legislation? 
                  Jeffrey Barnes 
    9. Indefinite Terms and Broad Discretions: Statutory Interpretation Against an ‘Infinite Variety of Facts’ 
                  Justice Timothy Ginnane

    PART V – The Text and the Limits of the Judicial Role

    10. The Quest for Certainty and the Limits of the Judicial Role 
                  Justice Chris Maxwell 
    11. Certainty, Choice and Text in Statutory Interpretation 
                  Jacinta Dharmananda

    PART VI – The Legislative Purpose

    12. Legislative Purpose and Statutory Interpretation 
                  John Basten

    PART VII – Acts Interpretation Acts

    13. Interpretation Acts: Coherent Interpretation and a Coherent Statute Book 
                  Nick Horn

    PART VIII – Objects Provisions

    14. Are Objects Provisions Valuable to Primary Decision-Makers? The Case of Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme 
                  Darren O’Donovan and  Narelle Bedford

    PART IX – Administrative Law

    15. Administrative Law and Statutory Interpretation: Sidesteps and Missteps in the Struggle for Coherence 
                  Matthew Groves

    PART X – Conclusion

    16. Closing Reflections 
                  Steven Churches

    Bibliography

    Index

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