Statutory Interpretation and Access to Justice: Text, Context and Purpose
6 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2016
Date Written: July 16, 2015
The contemporary dialogue surrounding statutory interpretation in Australian legal education has tended to focus on the adjudicative experience. Much of the literature on the discrete subject of statutory interpretation is written by experts in public law and by judges. There is however a much wider experience of working with statutes, including the daily practice of transactional lawyers and the application of statutory provisions in contexts that are unlikely ever to see judicial interpretation. In the latter case, it is often by parliamentary design that rights, obligations, and processes for dispute resolution are provided for explicitly outside the context of courts of record. Usually the purpose of such statutes is to promote access to justice. Legislation of this type is therefore a rich context for student learning about the need for and processes of access to justice. Because clues to interpretation, to resolution of ambiguity, or to the meaning of terms cannot be found in the courts, the question for the legal educator becomes how best to teach the reading of a statute outside express judicial guidance. This paper uses the example of property law to illustrate a statutory interpretation framework within which to use statutes to reveal issues of power, and legislative responses that promote access to justice.
Keywords: legal education, statutory interpreation, property law, leasing, consumer protection
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