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Statutory Interpretation Update - Online CPD

Statutory Interpretation Update - Online CPD
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Package includes:

Online CPD Module  l  Booklet  l  PowerPoint Presentation

Package Fee (incl GST)

  • $205 - NZLS members and Associate members
  • $255 - Non-members

Note: Access to the online files is via your "My CPD" page. If you would like to purchase multiple packages, please contact us here.

Online CPD Module

Presentation time: 120 minutes

Statutory interpretation is of central importance to all lawyers. This vital seminar will provide a refresher for all barristers, solicitors, in-house and other lawyers who interpret and apply legislation in their private or public practice.

There have been many cases, and two major texts published Subordinate Legislation in New Zealand (2013) and Burrows and Carter Statute Law in New Zealand 5th ed (2015), since this topic was last addressed as an NZLS CLE Seminar in 2012.

It is time to stop and reflect on recent case law, to consider the current range of available tools for interpretation, and recent trends and developments in their use.

In this practical module the presenters will use examples and illustrations to cover the following topics:

Topics covered will include:
  • Statutory interpretation - what does it mean and why does it matter?
  • Text - what text is relevant, and how is text relevant, to finding meaning?
  • Purpose - why is purpose a second key driver of statutory interpretation?
  • Context - why and how does the context affect legislation’s preferred meaning?
  • Values - why and how do basic principles and values affect preferred meaning?
  • Using all the tools – how judges and others approach the task.

Learning objectives

After completing this module you will:
  • Be aware of the key factors that affect statutory interpretation.
  • Better understand how to identify and use these factors, alone and together, in particular cases, to develop and support or strengthen your arguments.

Please contact us if you use a dial up internet connection.


Authors: Ross Carter, Jason McHerron
Published: 15 June 2016
Pages: 190


Statutory interpretation is central to the modern private and public practice of law. It is critical to every case affected by legislation. And nearly all cases today involve legislation.

“Statute law in its practical application is not what the Act says”, Francis Bennion reminds us, “but what a court says (or would say) the Act means.”1 This makes studying statutory interpretation, as Sir Kenneth Keith has noted, at least as important as studying legislative texts: “Whoever hath an absolute authority to interpret any written or spoken laws, it is he
who is truly the Law-giver to all intents and purposes, and not the person who first wrote or spoke them.”2 An authoritative interpretation is therefore determinative – the last word.
Few cases today involve no legislation. Justice Kirby, in common with many other judges, has said: “If the interpretation of contractual documents is an important part of the modern judge’s vocation, the construction of statutes is now, probably, the single most important aspect of legal and judicial work.”3 “[T]he whole of judicial review”, for example, “could be seen as an appendix to the law of statutory interpretation”.4 Chief Justice French in 2012 called Australia’s legal system “a statutory universe”: “it is difficult to find any legal problem which is able to be defined and resolved solely by resort to the common law. On the other hand, it is not easy to find a statute which does not depend for its interpretation on principles derived from the common law”.5 And the Legislation Amendment Bill introduced in 2014 − and still awaiting a first reading before Parliament in 20166 − proposes to update the law on the interpretation of legislation.


Jones (ed) Bennion on Statutory Interpretation—A Code (6th ed, 2013) at 478 (Comment on Code s 180).
2 Bishop Benjamin Hoadley (an 18th century divine), quoted in J C Gray Nature and Sources of the Law (1916) at 102, 125, and 172 (original emphasis), quoted by Sir Kenneth Keith in “Sources of Law, Especially in Statutory Interpretation” in Bigwood (ed) Legal Method in New Zealand (Butterworths, 2001) at 77 and 78.
3 Hon Justice Michael Kirby (2003) 24(2) Stat LR 95 at 96; JJ Spigelman CJ (2010) 84 ALJ 822 (judiciary’s dominant task).
4 KJ Keith Interpreting Treaties, Statutes and Contracts (OP No 19, NZCPL, Wellington, 2009) (“Interpreting T, S and C”) at v, citing RB Cooke “The Rights of Citizens” in RS Milne (ed) Bureaucracy in New Zealand (NZIPA, 1957) 84 at 96. “Determining the nature and extent of a statutory decision-maker’s obligation to consult is primarily an exercise in
statutory interpretation.”: NZ Pork Industry Board v D-G of MAF (HC, WN, CIV-2011-485-719, 3 May 2012) at [228] per Joseph Williams J. [Q]uestions of vires are ultimately questions of statutory interpretation.”: Berachan Investments Ltd v Body Corporate 164205 [2012] NZCA 256 at [31] per Arnold J ”The …submissions…rest on statutory interpretation, as does much of the law of judicial review in practice”: Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ Inc v Minister of Conservation [2016] NZHC 220 at [50], Palmer J. See also Deliu v Connell [2016] NZHC 361 at [6].
5 French CJ Litigating in a Statutory Universe (18 February 2012) at 2.

PowerPoint Presentation

These are the slides included in the presentation.
Number of Slides: 85

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Statutory Interpretation Update - Online CPD

Publication Date: 15-Jun-2016

Authors: Ross Carter, Jason McHerron

NZ $255.00

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