Episode 54

Judicial decisions on the meaning of a statutory word can sometimes be useful when looking at the same word in another Act.  The degree of usefulness varies, however, depending on factors like context and purpose.   More weight might be given where the so-called ‘re-enactment presumption’1, recently considered by the High Court, can be engaged2.  Where a statutory word is given a meaning by a court, and afterwards is re-enacted by parliament, we can presume the word takes its judicial meaning3.  Of course, this presumption will be rebutted if ‘an intention to exclude that interpretation is evident’4iTip – the legislative history of the later statute, including parliamentary debates or a commissioned report, may rebut or strengthen the presumption.

 Jacinta Dharmananda – Assistant Professor, Law School, University of Western Australia 

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In this episode:


Writers – Jacinta, Gordon, Philip, Sarah, Joseph. Producer – Cameron.

1 Pearce & Geddes (at [3.43]), Fortress [2015] HCA 10 (at [15]), Episode 8.

2 Brisbane [2019] HCA 27 (at [45]), Vella [2019] HCA 38 (at [19]).

3 cf s 18 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1915 (SA).

4 Vella [2019] HCA 38 (at [19]).