Legislative intention

Liquorland v Director [2024] WASC 128

This liquor licencing appeal is an important reminder about what ‘legislative intention’ is and what it isn’t.  Lemonis J (at [35]) quoted High Court authority for the point that legislative intention is ‘something of a fiction’15, and that there is never the attribution of some collective mental state to any legislators.

Findings of ‘intention’ involve an expression of the constitutional relationship between arms of government as to the making, interpretation and application of laws reached on the basis of known and understood principles.  As an output of the interpretation process, legislative intention is what parliament is taken to mean by the words it used.

This principle is from Episode 108 of interpretation NOW!


15 Zheng [2009] HCA 52 [41], Congoo [2015] HCA 17 [36].