Episode 99

Senior judges once said not to read books about interpretation1.  That changed with the explosion of legislation we see in the modern state.  Professor Pearce produced our first textbook back in 1974.  Two more have now entered the field and all of them are good2.  Interpretation is a significant body of law in its own right.  Each of our textbooks tells you whatever you may want to know, except for one thing … how to do it!  This is generally not an issue with other subjects.  It is important here, however, because interpretation involves a process or method.  Attempts to explain the techniques have been made3, but concepts like ‘hermeneutic circles’ make little sense to the ordinary reader4.  It is possible, however, to describe the process in basic terms sufficient to enable the avoidance of simple errors5.  What we need to supplement textbooks is an interpretation manual.

Gordon Brysland – Tax Counsel Network

See here for the official PDF of Episode 99 of interpretation NOW!

Thanks – Jeremy Francis, Annie Huang, Janhavi Bhandari & Patrick Boyd.


1 Lord Reid quoted in Carter (2020) 41 Statute Law Review 240 (at 263).

2 First Herzfeld & Prince (2013), then Barnes, Dharmananda & Moran (2023).

3 Barnes in The Coherence of Statutory Interpretation (at 78-94) is the best.

4 Campbell & Campbell (2014) 39 Australian Bar Review 1 (at [4.6]).

5 Episode 66 seeks to describe the process or method we are to apply.