Section 32(1) of the Charter: Confining Statutory Discretions Compatibly with Charter Rights?
30 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2017 Last revised: 18 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 17, 2016
Parliament frequently enacts legislation which confers broad discretionary powers on decision-makers. Such statutory discretions are not at large — they are confined by principles of statutory interpretation. In Victoria, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) (‘Charter’) has a role to play in interpreting statutes. Section 32(1) of the Charter provides that so far as it is possible consistently with their purpose, all statutory provisions must be interpreted in a way that is compatible with human rights. A question therefore arises as to whether discretions conferred by Victorian statutory provisions must be interpreted so that they may only be exercised compatibly with the human rights protected by the Charter. This article explores the issue. The answer is not as straightforward as it might first seem.
Keywords: Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic), section 32(1), domestic bill of rights, statutory discretions, statutory interpretation, principle of legality, eight-year review of the Victorian Charter
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