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The Australian National University

The ‘Modern Approach’ to Statutory Interpretation and the Principle of Legality: An Issue of Coherence?

Dan Meagher (2018) 46 (3)

The ‘modern approach’ to interpretation requires that effect be given to the ordinary meaning of a statutory text in its wider context and with reference to its purpose. This article interrogates the interpretive approach used by the High Court in fundamental rights cases to assess its compatibility with this ‘modern approach’. It asks, specifically, whether the strict text-based approach used in these cases (which involves the application of the principle of legality) is sufficient to determine the meaning of ambiguous statutory texts. The argument made is that the coherent application of the ‘modern approach’ requires that this interpretive approach be justified.

Vol 46, Issue 3, 2018

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