Week 1 in Review
After completing the first weeks worth of readings, research activities, and coming to grips with what exactly is statutory interpretation, I can safely say that I am enjoying the approach to the course taken by the course co-ordinator, Dominic. All the course information is up, and structured in a easy-to-access manner. He has also been prompt in providing an overview of what is expected in the form of assessment, so I can now start working on the assessment with a clear idea as to expectations.
When I started this course, I had no idea as to what a statute was, let alone how to interpret one. I had this vague idea that it was some sort of law or legislation, but that was all. And the nearest I had come to researching legislation was the occasional visit to the ComLaw or Queensland Legislation websites when looking up some piece of law that I wanted to find out how it impacted my family or friends, or had heard about on the news (such as the so called Bikie law, or Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act 2013).
I am starting to understand why the process of statutory interpretation is of such importance, since it is so dependent on the statute in question, and the beliefs and biases of the judges in how they choose to interpret a statute. This is why statutory interpretation is more than just an extra skill for lawyers, but an whole branch of law. There are rules such as the literal rule (Parliament means what it says), the Golden rule (to avoid absurd outcomes) and the Mischief rule (identify what Parliaments intent was). There’s Pounds four methods by which courts can interpret and use statues. Plus the argument of whether judicial activism or legal formalism is the correct approach.
I had fun working through the research side of this weeks work, as I was able to look around the different databases and sites and see where I could obtain information on different aspects of legislation such as the explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches which explained in plain English the contents of a bill, describes the principle of the Bill and the governments purpose in proposing it. I also realised that the AustLii website would have made it much easier to find some privacy related legislation for the Week 1 problem – > AustLii -> advanced search, privacy, Queensland numbered acts, and then click ‘Collapse Multi-sections‘ in the search results (top left) to see all the different acts that mention privacy in some way…
I am still a bit confused about some things such as legal formalism, and judicial activism, but reading some of the reflections that others have already put it is making it clearer to me, and I’m sure I’ll get a better grasp on these concepts in the following weeks.