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Statutory Interpretation: Principles and Pragmatism for a New Age

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2007
247 pages
The essays in this monograph focus on the Australian judiciary's ongoing effort to grapple with the inherent linguistic ambiguity of statutes that gives rise to the principles and practice of statutory interpretation.
The first essay draws attention to the responsibility of legislative drafters to be precise in their thought and expression, so that judges are not left to guess about what the legislators meant, such that the judges essentially become the final legislators. This essay also considers how a written Federal constitution influences the form and interpretation of statute law. A second essay explains that statutory interpretation is not merely a collection of maxims, but properly forms a distinct body of law. A third essay points out that the judicial experience of the meaning of particular legislation necessarily reflects the judge's attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions that have developed over the course of his/her legal education and career. A fourth essay discusses statutory interpretation in the context of a distinctive legislative creation, i.e., the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. A fifth essay presents the author's insider account of the processes involved in drafting legislation, including the sources of legislative change and the preparation of explanatory memoranda and second-reading speeches. Another essay explains how, since 1980, parliaments have made a significant contribution to statutory interpretation and how courts have become increasingly willing to express the general interpretive principles on which their reasoning is based. Remaining essays examine American "purposivism" and statutory interpretation in Canada. Subject index and tables of statutes and cases


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