Penal provisions

R v Cumberland [2019] NTCCA 13

What non-parole period applies where a sentence includes offences for which minimum non-parole periods of both 70% or 50% are specified?2  Courts normally favour leniency in penal situations, but this is now a rule of last ‘last resort’ 3.  Accordingly, the court applied the ordinary rules of interpretation. 

This led to a proportional approach being taken under which some offences attracted 50% and others 70%.  A less lenient approach may have led to injustice, and could always have been specified by parliament.  iTip – penal provisions, including sentencing laws, are construed in the same way as other statutory provisions4, as the court did here.

This case is from Episode 50 of interpretationNOW!


2 ss 55 & 130 of the Sentencing Act (NT).

3 Beckwith (1976) 135 CLR 569 (at 576), Episodes 25 & 35.

4 Aubrey [2017] HCA 18 (at [39]), Pearce & Geddes (at [9.8]).