Retrospective legislation

Ketjan v Assistant Minister [2019] FCA 516

Ketjan’s visa was cancelled under a migration provision requiring cancellation where someone has a substantial criminal record and is currently imprisoned.  The decision-maker took into account a custodial sentence completed before the provision came into force.  Was this prevented by the presumption against retrospective laws?13 

The court held (at [40]) that the provision didn’t affect rights that existed in the past.  It simply used past events ‘as a basis for what it prescribes for the future’14iTip – legislation is not retrospective simply because it refers to events that happened before commencement of the law in question.

This case is from Episode 48 of interpretationNOW!


13 Maxwell [1957] HCA 7 (at [7]), Episodes 7 & 39.

14 Robertson [1973] VR 819 (at 824).