The Common Law Bill of Rights
STATUTORY INTERPRETATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS: MCPHERSON LECTURE SERIES, Vol. 3, University of Queensland Press, 2008
49 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2011
Date Written: March 10, 2008
Human rights issues have moved to the centre of contemporary jurisprudence. Even in the absence of a bill of rights, the common law protected human rights. Much of the protection was secreted within the law of statutory interpretation. This paper identifies a “common law bill of rights”, setting out the list of rebuttable presumptions of statutory interpretation that serve to protect rights by requiring clear and unambiguous language in any legislation before such a right can be abrogated. Furthermore, the right to a fair trial has been the source of many of the rules of criminal procedure and of the law of evidence, developed by judges over the course of several centuries. The full range of presumptions of the law of statutory interpretation, and principles and procedures of substantive content, have appropriately been categorised together under the general concept of “the principle of legality”, which is a unifying principle of the law.
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