LAW 2566 - Statutory Interpretation

North Terrace Campus - Winter - 2021

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 3 hours per week (when averaged over the Semester)
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites LAW 1501
    Assumed Knowledge LAW 1504
    Restrictions Available to LLB and B.Criminology with B.Laws and BArts Advanced with B.Laws 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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The textbook for this course is Michelle Sanson, Statutory Interpretation, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press, 2016

    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, Statutory Interpretation in Australia, 9th ed, LexisNexis, 2019
    Donald Gifford, Statutory Interpretation, Thomson Reuters, 1990
    Perry Herzfeld and Thomas Prince, Statutory Interpretation Principles: The Laws of Australia, Thomson Reuters, 2014
    Kath Hall and Claire Macken, Legislation and Statutory Interpretation, 4th ed, Lexis Nexis, 2015
    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 (note that the in-class activities will not be recorded).
    • 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 four contact hours. These contact hours will include lectures, but also involve interactive work incliuding large and small group discussion and activities in which students will be required to research, discuss, debate and undertake statutory interpretation exercises.

    It is important that students engage with any preparatory work before coming to class. As a rule of thumb, I would expect students to be completing about two hours work between the classes. Of course, there will also be some additional work associated with the assessments.

    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 nine days each with four hours of contact. The days will commence at 1 pm 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. In the case of this intensive, I am expecting students to do some preparatory work before the course commences (around 3-5 hours), between the classes (probably about two hours) and, obviously, there will be additional work associated with the assessments. 

    Learning Activities Summary
    Classes Day Topic
    Class One Monday 5th July Introduction; Finding the materials
    Class Two Tuesday 6th July Creating legislation; Context, History and The Act as a Whole
    Class Three Wednesday 7th July Interpretation legislation
    Class Four Thursday 8th July The Interpretive Technique
    Class Five Friday 9th July Intrinsic Materials 
    Class Six Tuesday 13th July Intrinsic and Extrinsic Materials
    Class Seven Wednesday 14th July Traditional Common law approaches and statutory presumptions
    Class Eight Thursday 15th July Interference with Common Law Rights
    Class Nine Friday 16th July International Law in Statutory Interpretation; 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 Task Task Type Length Due Weighting Redeemable Learning Outcome
    Discusison Board posts Individual 2 x 200 words Various 20% No 1, 2, 3
    Find a wacky statutory provision exercise Individual 200 words Class 3 10% No 1, 2
    Group Presentation Group 10 Mins Class 6 and 7 20% Yes 1, 2, 3
    Legal Opinion Individual 2000 words 3 August 50-70% No 1, 2, 3
    Assessment Detail
    1. Discussion board posts: 20%

    Post 1: During week 1 of the course, all students will pose an interpretive problem on the discussion board in 200 words or less. This should provide the details of the relevant section or sections and pose a question for another student to solve. Please don’t make them too complex as the question should be able to be answered in 200 words.
    eg., Would Maxine be guilty of an offence under the Australian Road Rules, R 300, if she was on her mobile phone while stopped by a red light?

    Post 2: During week 2 of the course, all students will respond to one of the posed questions in 200 words or less. I am aiming to have only one answer to each question, so it would be helpful if you could identify that a question is “taken” as you select one by replying with your name and indicating that you intend to answer it.

    2. Find a Wacky Statutory Provision Exercise: 10%
    This exercise will involve finding and correctly citing statutory provision/s that is or are "wacky" or odd in nature or effect. Students will post their finds in their entirety on the subject's dedicated discussion board with a short (no more than 200 word) explanation of why the provision/s qualify as wacky. The post must be made by Class 5.


    3. Group Presentation: 20%
    Students will present a case that has considered an interpretation issue. The presentation will be 10 mins in length and will be scheduled in Class 6 and 7. There will be 5 minutes after the presentation for questions. All members of the group are expected to speak as part of the presentation. A list of possible cases will be made available on MyUni. Feedback will be promptly provided to the group following the presentation.
    The presentation will be marked against the following criteria:
    a. Organisation and intrinsic interest of the presentation
    b. Ability of the group members to work collaboratively
    c. Level of understanding of the case and statutory interpretation technique
    d. Ability of the group to answer questions and engage in class discussion on their case.

    4. Legal Opinion: 50-70%
    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 2000 words and the due date for this assessment is Tuesday 3 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.

    Finality of Assessment Grades

    Students are advised that Course Coordinators will not enter into negotiations of any kind with any student regarding changes to their grades. It is irrelevant, in any given circumstance, that only a minimal number of additional marks are required to inflate a student’s grade for any individual assessment item or course as a whole. Pursuant to the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policyand the Adelaide Law School Assessment Policies and Procedures, grades may only be varied through the appropriate channels for academic review (such as an official re-mark).

    In accordance with the University’s Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, course coordinators ‘ensure that appropriate marking guidelines and cross-marking moderation processes across markers are in place’ in each course. Procedures adopted by Adelaide Law School to ensure consistency of marking in courses with multiple markers include:
    • assurance of the qualifications of markers, and their knowledge of the content covered in each course;
    • detailed marking guidelines and assessment rubrics to assist in the marking of items of assessment;
    • sharing of example marked assessments at various grade bands across markers;
    • reviewing of selected marked assessments from each marker by the course coordinator;
    • comparison of the marks and their distribution across markers;
    • automatic double-marking of all interim assessment receiving a fail grade, and of final assessments where a student’s overall result is a fail grade;
    • the availability of re-marking of assessments in accordance with Adelaide Law School’s Assessment Policies and Procedures.

    Approval of Results by Board of Examiners
    Students are reminded that all assessment results are subject to approval (and possible moderation/change) by the Law School’s Board of Examiners. Assessment results at the University are not scaled. Under the Assessment for Coursework Programs Policy, students are assessed ‘by reference to their performance against pre-determined criteria and standards … and not by ranking against the performance of the student cohort in the course’. However, under that same policy, the Board of Examiners (as the relevant Assessment Review Committee for courses at Adelaide Law School) is required to ‘ensure comparability of standards and consistency’ in assessment. On occasions, the Board of Examiners will form the view that some moderation is required to ensure the comparability of standards and consistency across courses and years, and accordingly provide fairness to all law students. All assessment results are therefore subject to approval (and possible change) until confirmed by the Board of Examiners and posted on Access Adelaide at the end of each semester.
  • 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 feedback The course is constantly being updated and revised to reflect the evolution of the law, to respond to student feedback, and to engage with the latest teaching practices. Student feedback is collected each time the course is run, including through SELT reports. Previous SELT reports, and staff feedback on them, are posted on the course MyUni site for students to view and consider.
  • Student Support
    Lex Salus Source code The University Writing Centre provides academic learning and language development services and resources for local, international, undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students enrolled at the University of Adelaide.

    The centre offers practical advice and strategies for students to master reading, writing, note-taking, time management, oral presentation skills, referencing techniques and exam preparation for success at university through seminars, workshops and individual consultations.

    Lex Salus Program
    Lex Salus (law and wellbeing) is an initiative of the Adelaide Law School aimed at destigmatising mental health issues; promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness; building a strong community of staff and students; and celebrating diversity within the school. It also seeks to promote wellness within the legal profession, through the involvement of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, the Honourable Chris Kourakis, as the official Patron of the program.

    Students can participate in the Lex Salus program by attending barbecue lunches, pancake breakfasts, knitting and crochet circles, seminars, guest speakers, conferences and other activities. Our Facebook page, website and regular all-student emails promote upcoming events, and have tips and information on wellness.

    Our Lex Salus YouTube channel also includes videos on topics like managing stress, and interviews with LGBTQ lawyers and their supporters which celebrate diversity and individuality. Students who commit to 10 hours of volunteering with Lex Salus in one year can have their service recognised on their academic transcript and through a thank you morning tea with the Chief Justice and law school staff.

    Student Life Counselling Support
    The University’s Student Life Counselling Support service provides free and confidential service to all enrolled students. We encourage you to contact the Student Life Counselling Support service on 8313 5663 to make an appointment to deal with any issues that may be affecting your study and life.
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    Academic Integrity
    All students must be familiar with the University’s Academic Integrity Policy. Academic Misconduct is a serious matter and is treated as such by the Law School and the University. Academic Misconduct (which goes beyond plagiarism) can be a ground for a refusal by the Supreme Court of South Australia to admit a person to practice as a legal practitioner in South Australia. Academic Integrity is an essential aspect of ethical and honest behaviour, which is central to the practice of the law and an understanding of what it is to be a lawyer.
  • 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.