Legislative purpose

The King v Jacobs Group [2023] HCA 23

This case is about the penalty imposed after a company conspired to bribe a foreign official on construction projects8.  The penalty provision mirrored treaty obligations and was to be read consistently with international law9.  Penalties should be ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive’; and proportionate to the gravity of the offence.  Benefit to the offender is ‘but one aspect’ to be considered10.

The plurality, citing s 15AA, said that a construction ‘which achieves these purposes including by promoting certainty and consistency in application’ was to be preferred.  The prosecution appeal against  leniency of the penalty imposed was duly allowed.

This principle is from Episode 101 of interpretation NOW!


8 s 70.2(5) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

9 [22] citing Kingdom of Spain [2023] HCA 11 [16].

10 [24] citing Hellenic Republic [1992] ECR I-6735 [20].