LAW 2566 - Statutory Interpretation

North Terrace Campus - Winter - 2015

Statutory interpretation is the process by which legislative instruments are given meaning so that they can be understood and applied. This subject will systematically examine the body of law that is relevant when determining the intention of Parliament as expressed in legislative instruments. The rules, approaches and practices required by statute or developed at common law are considered and applied to both state and federal legislation. In addition to developing students? interpretation skills the subject will also focus on legal research and opinion writing.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LAW 2566
    Course Statutory Interpretation
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Law School
    Term Winter
    Level Undergraduate Law (LLB)
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Intensive
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 1504
    Restrictions Available to LLB students only
    Course Description Statutory interpretation is the process by which legislative instruments are given meaning so that they can be understood and applied. This subject will systematically examine the body of law that is relevant when determining the intention of Parliament as expressed in legislative instruments. The rules, approaches and practices required by statute or developed at common law are considered and applied to both state and federal legislation. In addition to developing students? interpretation skills the subject will also focus on legal research and opinion writing.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Suzanne Le Mire

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course, a student will be able to:
    1. Locate, identify and be able to critically analyse relevant statutes, statutory provisions and legislative instruments, as well as pertinent judicial authority;
    2. Interpret the appropriate provisions using the accepted tools and techniques of statutory interpretation;
    3. Apply statutory provisions to fact scenarios and communicate the interpretation, nature and effect of statutory provisions to relevant stakeholders, such as clients and courts.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1, 2, 3
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 3
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1, 2, 3
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The textbook for this course is:

    Michelle Sanson, Statutory Interpretation, OUP, 2012

    All students will need to have access to:
    1. Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth)
    2. Acts Interpretation Act 1915 (SA)

    Further resources will be made available on MyUni. 

    Recommended Resources
    Other useful texts include:

    DC Pearce and RS Geddes, Statutory Interptretation in Australia, 8th ed, LexisNexis, 2014
    Perry Herzfeld and Thomas Prince, Statutory Interpretation Principles: The Laws of Australia, Thomson Reuters, 2014
    Kath Hall and Claire Macken, Legislation and Statutory Interpretation, 3rd ed, Lexis Nexis, 2012
    Online Learning
    The course is supported by the Statutory Interpretation MyUni website. The website contains links to the following resources:
    • Course information, including the Course Profile.
    • Course materials – such as items of assessment, lecture PowerPoint slides, and other course materials which will be posted from time to time.
    • Lectures – audio streaming of lectures and video streaming of lecture slides will be posted (where available) under the Course Materials link as soon as possible after each lecture.
    • Discussion Board – This is available for students to discuss the course among themselves and to communicate with academic staff in relation to administrative or substantive questions about the course.
    • My Grades – where students’ grades will be entered for each assignment.
    MyUni will also be used to post announcements, and assignment tasks. Students are expected to check MyUni regularly to keep up to date with these materials and additional learning resources throughout the course.

    Students should also regularly check their email.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be taught intensively.  Each day will have six contact hours. These contact hours will include some short lectures, but predominantly involve large and small group discussion and activities in which students will be required to research, discuss, debate and defend their analysis of the relevant material set in the course readings. It is absolutely critical that students have undertaken the reading before coming to class.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Contact time: the course will be made up of six days each with six hours of contact. The days will commence at 10 am and conclude at 5 pm. This amounts to 36 hours of formal class time during the winter semester.

    Preparation time: In addition to attending formal classes it is anticipated that students will do substantial independent work to prepare for classes and to complete the course assignments. The University expects full time students (those undertaking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Classes Day Topic
    Class One Monday am Introduction; Fundamental Issues
    Class Two Monday pm The Interpretive Technique
    Class Three Wednesday am Common Law Approaches and Statutory Requirements
    Class Four Wednesday pm Context, History and The Act as a Whole
    Class Five Friday am Common Law Presumptions: Part 1
    Class Six Friday pm Common Law Presumptions: Part 2
    Class Seven Monday am Retrospectivity and Extraterritoriality
    Class Eight Monday pm Reasonableness and Mens Rea
    Class Nine Wednesday am Duellling provisions
    Class Ten Wednesday pm Interference with Common Law Rights
    Class Eleven Friday am International Law
    Class Twelve Friday pm Review and Q and A
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment item % of Final Mark Group or individual Redeemable Due Date Learning outcome/s
    Class participation 10 Individual No N/A 1, 2, 3
    Find a wacky statutory provision exercise 2 bonus marks Individual No 10 July
    Case Note Exercise 20 Individual Yes 15 July 1, 2, 3
    Legal Opinion 70-90 Individual No 6 August 1, 2, 3
    Assessment Detail
    1. Class Participation: 10%
    The rules and expectations for the Class Participation mark will be released and explained in the first class. Generally, students will be
    expected to participate in large group discussions, small group discussions, and actively contribute to a number of small group
    exercises throughout the seminar. Students must attend 9/12 classes to pass the class participation component.

    2. Find a Wacky Statutory Provision Exercise: Bonus 2%
    This exercise will involve finding and correctly citing a statutory provision that is wacky in nature or effect. Students will post their
    finds in their entirety on the subject's discussion board with a short (no more than 200 word) explanation of why they qualify as wacky. The post must be made by 2 pm on Friday 10 July.

    3. Case Note Exercise: 20%
    Students will undertake an optional case note exercise on a statutory interpretation case. Detailed instructions with marking criteria will be distributed with the Exercise in Class One. The maximum word count is 1500. The assignment must be submitted by Wednesday 15 July at 2 pm.

    4. Legal Opinion: 70-90%
    Students will be given a fact scenario and have to locate and apply relevant statute law and provide a legal opinion in the form that would be provided by a barrister to a solicitor. The maximum word count is 4500 words and the due date for this assessment is Thursday 6 August at 2 pm.


    Assignments must be handed in electronically by Turnitin. Students must ensure their student number appears on all written work submitted for assessment.

    Electronic copies of the assignment as handed in must be retained by students.

    Assignments will be returned electronically.

    It is also advisable to keep written work after it has been assessed and returned.


    Extensions are granted at the discretion of Course Coordinator. Extensions beyond the due date are usually only granted in the case of significant unforeseen incapacity.

    Students who wish to apply, should apply for an extension by completing the online Application for Extension form (found at The application must give details of the extent and length of the student’s incapacity, and the length of extension that is requested. The Course Coordinator will email students with the outcome of their request as soon as possible after it is received. If an extension is granted, it is only provisional until formal evidence of the incapacity is received. Students must attach this evidence as well as the email granting the extension to the assignment when it is submitted. The evidence submitted must be consistent with details provided in the email requesting the extension. If the details of the request for an extension, and the medical or other evidence verifying the reason for the extension are not consistent in all respects, the extension may be nullified, and the Course Coordinator may in their discretion decide not to accept the assignment, or impose a penalty for late submission.

    You can apply for an extension at any time before the due date for an assignment. However, you are strongly advised to make your application as soon as the need becomes apparent. Delay in making an application obviously involves the risk that there will be insufficient time to complete the assignment (with consequential loss of marks) if the application for extension is refused.

    If an application is made within two days of the due date, or after the due date has expired, it will not be granted unless the Course Co-ordinator is satisfied:
    that the circumstances warrant an extension; and
    there was no unreasonable delay in making the application.
    If your request for an extension is rejected, you can appeal in writing to the Student Appeals Committee, via the Secretary to the Student Appeals Committee, within seven days of notification of rejection by the Course Co-ordinator.

    Penalties for Late Submission

    5% of the total mark possible will be deducted for every 24 hours or part thereof that it is late, including each day on a weekend. For example, an essay that is submitted after the due date and time but within the first 24 hour period, and that has been graded at 63%, will have 5% deducted, for a final grade of 58%. An essay that is more than 24 hours late will lose 10%, etc. Hard copy submissions made after 5.00pm on a Friday will be assumed to have been submitted on the next business day and will be penalised accordingly.

    Penalties for Exceeding Stipulated Word Length

    Assignments which exceed the allocated length (word length or page limit) will be subject to a penalty of 5% of total marks possible per 100 words or part thereof (ie with a word limit of 3,000, an essay graded 63% will have 5% deducted if it is 3001 words long, for a final grade of 58%, 10% if it is 3101 words long, etc). Words are calculated including all footnotes and headings within the text but excluding cover page information. Quotations and all referencing information are included in the word count.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.