The French Court and the Principle of Legality

48 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2018 Last revised: 9 Aug 2018

See all articles by Bruce Chen

Bruce Chen

Monash University, Faculty of Law, Students

Date Written: May 30, 2018


With the recent retirement of Robert French as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, this article provides a retrospective on the French Court's treatment of the principle of legality. The principle of legality is a common law interpretive principle most commonly associated with the presumption that Parliament does not intend to interfere with fundamental common law rights, freedoms and immunities. This article demonstrates that the principle of legality has greatly risen in prominence during the French Court era. The article draws a narrative of the most significant principle of legality cases decided by the French Court. It identifies the unprecedented developments that have taken place, the areas in which divisions have emerged, and the implications for the principle going forward.

Keywords: Principle of legality, interpretive principle, common law, fundamental common law rights and freedoms and immunities and principles and general system of law, High Court of Australia, Chief Justice French, underlying developments in treatment of principle, review of French Court jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Chen, Bruce, The French Court and the Principle of Legality (May 30, 2018). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2018; Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3192775. Available at SSRN:

Bruce Chen (Contact Author)

Monash University, Faculty of Law, Students ( email )


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