Importance of the text

SZOXP v Minister [2015] FCAFC 69

This case (at [17]) repeats the High Court mantra that the task of interpretation must begin and end with the text of the law2.  Rules of interpretation about context and purpose are ‘mediated through the text of the statute’.  This means that, although extrinsic materials may be relevant, they ‘cannot displace the meaning of the statutory text’.

iTip … step 1 – read the text of the law carefully; step 2 – consider the wider context, policy, legislative history, extrinsic materials and interpretational rules; step 3 – return to the law and see if any of these things have any proper impact on what the words mean.  Voila – you are doing it the way the High Court says to do it!

This case is from Episode 2 of interpretationNOW!


2 FCT v Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd [2012] HCA 55 (at [39]).