How To Interpret a Statute

This book explains an effective method for interpreting the object and meaning of statutes of law.
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by Christopher Enright

The skill of interpreting a statute is important for one good reason - the outcome of a case, commonly enough, depends on how a court interprets an ambiguous provision in a statute.

Yet despite the importance of interpreting statutes, there have been no serious attempts so far to describe an effective method for perfoming the task.

The reason for this is probably that one of the common characteristics of Australian lawyers is that to a substantial extent they are skills-averse. In Australia, the dominant rule of interpretation is that a court or an official must interpret a statute by choosing the meaning that will best achieve the purpose and object of the statute.

This book explains how to interpret in this fashion by setting forth and explaining a model that has six steps:

  • Step 1:  Organise the rule
  • Step 2:  Identify the issues
  • Step 3:  Identify the meanings and effects
  • Step 4:  Identify the purpose and object
  • Step 5:  Identify the correct meaning
  • Step 6:  Write the opinion

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138 pages softcover

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About the Author
Christopher Enright is a chartered accountant, barrister and solicitor. He has lectured in law at several universities. He specialises in legal method.