Episode 36

Statutory interpretation begins and ends with the text of the law1, something the High Court tells us again and again.  However, interpretation is never to be conducted in a vacuum.  Words must be read with regard to their context and the statutory purpose2.  This involves far more than defaulting to some dictionary of choice.  There are ‘many instances where it is misleading to construe a composite phrase simply by combining the dictionary meanings of its component parts’3.  Courts strive to give each word in a statute meaning and effect4, and provisions are construed to give effect to harmonious goals5.  Most importantly, interpretation is never an abstract or hypothetical thing.  It is always conducted with reference to the facts of the case before us.

Andrew Maslaris – Treasury

See here for the official PDF of interpretationNOW! Episode 36

In this episode:


Writers – Andrew Maslaris & Gordon Brysland.  Producer – Suna Rizalar.

1 Alcan [2009] HCA 41 (at [47]), Episodes 2, 21 and 30.

2 Certain Lloyd’s [2012] HCA 56 (at [23-26]), s 15AA of the AIA 1901.

3 XYZ v Commonwealth [2006] HCA 25 (at [19]), Episode 5.

4 Saeed [2010] HCA 23 (at [39]), Amos [2018] QCA 11, Episodes 16 and 23.

5 Channel [2015] FCAFC 57 (at [4-5]), cf DZXP [2017] AATA 576 (at [87]).