Legislative intent

Joseph v Worthington [2017] VSC 501

A cardinal rule of interpretation has always been to give effect to legislative intent7.  This case (at [31]) reminds us that discovering intention is ‘an objective process ascertained by interpreting the statute’. 

It is not any subjective intention of the legislature which is relevant, but rather the ‘objective meaning’ of the provisions8.   Though some commentators disagree9, the High Court has settled the issue by stating many times that legislative intent is an outcome ‘arising from the application of accepted rules of construction’10.   iTip – the words of the Act itself are the ‘surest guide’ to legislative intent11.

This case is from Episode 29 of interpretationNOW!


See Episodes 1 and 18.

8  Strano v ACT [2016] ACTSC 4 (at [39]).

9  Ekins & Goldsworthy (2014) 36 Sydney Law Review39.

10  Congoo [2015] HCA 17 (at [36]), Momcilovic [2011] HCA 34 (at [60]).

11  Alcan [2009] HCA 41 (at [47]).