Topic: Uncommon statutory interpretation

Presenter: The Hon. Justice James Edelman - Supreme Court of Western Australia

This seminar considers the underlying premise central to the debate about the proper approach to interpreting statutes — that the exercise of statutory interpretation involves a search for the objective meaning of words of a statute in context. 

The author acknowledges that this interpretative approach is not confined to statutes, but also applies to the construction of a contract, a trust or a constitution. The article begins with a brief discussion of the most common difficulties of methodology in the search for objective meaning.

Justice Edelman then focuses on situations in which the courts have departed from the basic premise, using what he describes as "uncommon interpretive techniques". He provides, by way of example, one of the most famous instances where this type of interpretation occurs — in the application of the Statute of Frauds. 

In this seminar, Justice Edelman explores the origins of this approach and considers its application in modern decisions in Australia and the United Kingdom. He questions whether these techniques can be justified in a modern plural democracy as interpretative techniques and raises the question of whether an alternative justification must be sought. 

All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

About Research Seminar Series

The UQ Law Research Seminar Series provides an opportunity to explore and critically discuss legal and interdisciplinary issues in an academic environment. The seminars are an integral part of the School’s research culture.

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