Fundamental rights

Hoskin v Bendigo City Council [2015] VSCA 350

Ever had to consider how fundamental rights affect interpretation?  One issue in this mosque case was how the phrase ‘significant social effect’ in planning laws should be read.  The court said (at [29]) that religious equality is of fundamental concern in a multi-religious society like Australia7

If a law ‘is capable of a rational construction which permits persons to exercise their religion at the place where they wish to do so … a court should prefer that construction to one which will prevent them from doing so’8iTip – subject to a contrary intention being clearly expressed, the ‘principle of legality’ requires that all laws be read subject to fundamental rights (including religious equality)9.

This case is from Episode 8 of interpretationNOW!


7  See s 116 of the Constitution.

8  Moslem Alawy (1985) 1 NSWLR 525 (at 543-544).

Lacey [2011] HCA 10 (at [43]), cf Bennion (5ed at 842-843).