Attorney General v FJG [2023] NSWCA 34

In this case, Bell CJ (at [1]) observes that interpretation should never start from some preconceived policy outcome considered desirable then ‘work backwards’.  Preconception may be unconscious just as much as deliberate.  Within our purposive system, it is a particular problem that appellate courts have been concerned to call out15.

Could the NSW marriage register be changed retrospectively as to name and sex in a way that contradicted the federal marriage certificate?  This was not possible because the respective laws were to be construed harmoniously.  If this outcome was considered harsh, the remedy is via parliament.

This principle is from Episode 95 of interpretation NOW!


15 Certain Lloyd’s [2012] HCA 56 (at [26]), Greensill [2021] FCAFC 99 (at [70]).