Episode 72

Gordon Brysland

A recent migration case rejects the idea that translation mistakes in visa interview situations give rise to jurisdictional error1.  Putting this context to one side, two comments in the case illustrate key things about ‘interpretation’ more generally.  First, from Edelman J (at [51]) – The art of interpreting is the art of explaining meaning.  Statutory interpretation involves saying what parliament objectively meant by the words it used.  It is an ‘art’ in the sense of being neither mechanistic nor scientific.  But interpretation is a disciplined ‘art’ – it is subject to process and principle.  Second, from the plurality (at [6]) – Perfect interpretations simply do not exist2.  One way this plays out is that, at the difficult end of things, there are rarely 100% right or 100% wrong answers.  Interpretation typically involves weighing relative merits, rather than the discovery or assertion of absolutes.

Gordon Brysland – Tax Counsel Network

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In this episode:

Credits – Gordon Brysland, Oliver Hood, Jeffrey Barnes & Chris Sievers.


1 DVO16 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2021] HCA 12.

2 punctuation omitted from original, Perera (1999) 92 FCR 6 (at 18) quoted.