Episode 59

Are interpretation principles to be thrown out as we grapple with COVID-19?  Some thoughts … The legal system must be functional just as much in a pandemic or war as at other times – ‘amid the clash of arms, the laws are not silent’1.  Neither the statute book nor the principles for reading it are suspended by emergencies like COVID-192.  The rule of law, of which those principles are a critical part, remains an ‘essential service’3.  A coherent and apolitical system of interpretation capable of yielding reliable, consistent and clear answers in times of community stress is a national asset.  An interpretive free-for-all (or black hole) will not advance the clarity or application of COVID-19 measures or the wider law.  Political interpretation of legal text creates risks in any emergency situation.  The more we understand and apply interpretation basics, the better might be our inputs into ongoing solutions to the crisis and recovery in the COVID-19 aftermath.

Gordon Brysland – Tax Counsel Network

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In this episode:

Credits – Stephen Churches, Jeffrey Barnes, Gordon & Oliver


1 Liversidge [1942] AC 206 (at 244), cf A v Ardern [2020] NZHC 796.

2 cf Roche [2005] WASCA 4 (at [70]), Hicks [2007] FCA 299 (at [35]).

3 Rakielbakhour [2020] NSWSC 323 (at [13]), Rares [2013] FedJSchol 17 (at [42]).