Statutory Interpretation


Develop a basic knowledge of the rules of statutory interpretation.  As a lawyer statutory interpretation will be an important part of your ability to provide legal advice.  


On 28th of February, commission officer for drugs detained Fred, age 20, was arrested on the ground of keeping a white container. On examining, the officers found that the bottle contained some dangerous drug mainly known as the crystalline methamphetamine  upon which he was prosecuted. On the other hand, Cyril, age 14 years, admitted that the container belonged to him. In another situation, it is found out that the officers charged Simone, who claimed about his unawareness of the white container’s existence as claimed by the drug officers.

Discussion and Recommendation:

In the given matter, we see that the drug commissioners accused Fred and detained at the hotel room under section 5 of  Manufacture of Prohibited Drugs Act 2016. The act defines that anyone who is in possession of the drug accused under the same section of the act. Upon such conditions, few recommendations come forward.

For the given situation, there is scope for the use of the interpretation of the statutes. We must keep in mind of the fact, that Freg was accused and charged with finding the white container. There is no such clue that the container belonged to him. Neither did he admit in a statement that the container belonged to him. So, in this situation, it is advisable to have a look at the section of the act and what is the actual intention of the implementation of the same under the act. Here, Freg charged with the drug abuse under Sec 5. Section- 5 of the Act explains, that any person who is in possession of the drug and retains the same in his house, flat, unit, apartment or any other place shall found to be guilty. The section also explains that the permission given for the same will also be taken into account for concluding a person guilty of an offense under the act. The accused is liable to get the punishment from Court, which may extend up to two years of incarceration and even include a fine which may extend up to $500,000.

The situation gives scope for the interpretation of the existing statutes. For this situation, we will refer a case matter of Engineers case (Amalgamated Society of Engineers v Adelaide Steamship . In this matter, there is the use of the universal fundamental rules of the interpretation which in general is applied to the entire matters that suits the interpretation . So, concerning this matter and the situation raised we will look at every detail in a minute manner so that we can understand the language used for the concerned section in the most original forms and natural forms. After examining the utilization of the terminology, the next step that is involved is the duty required. While the legislature gives the access for the interpretation, we cannot deny the actual meaning of the terminology. Hence, we will take into account of some intrinsic materials of the matter. Apart from what is given in the particular section of the charge, it is important to take a note of all the relevant sections that surrounds the situation. We must also notice the fact that we shall take sections that defend or announces the punishment for the charged section.

Matter for the confession of Cyril will be decided upon the mens rea of the juvenile. If it is found that Cyril acts with the maturity of the adult, then the offense committed by him will no longer have any issues that decide a juvenile matter in the court. Here, we find that Cyril is one of the well known juvenile offenders. But according to sec 5 of the Act, we find that the retention of the prohibited drug will find a person guilty of the offence who achieved the age over eighteen years. The interpretation can be made in such way which may not favor Cyril because of his matured act and the admission that the drug belonged to him. Hence, he is competent enough to make an act of misleading and deception as it is observed in the matter of Weitman v Katies Ltd . Even if there is the defense for a juvenile under section 5, while concluding his statement and submission made along with the work he did, the interpretation of the statutes can make the provisional guidance in the manner where he can be put guilty concerning section 6(1). Not only this, he can make to give the compensation as following rules under Sec 6(2). Hence, it is important to have a brief look at both the sections. The former Sec explains that any supplier or manufacturer of the prohibited drugs can be put on the offense. The later section mention here describes the compensation that may lead to the selling of the property even to pay the compensation in the form of fines.

For the accused over Simone, there will be proper investigation expected prior. No legislative rules can violate the fundamental rights  of the individual. Hence, the interpretation can be brought in the field of such matter, where there is an observation made that the violation of the fundamental right occurred, Electrolux Home Products Pty Ltd v Australian Workers’ Union . We can see another matter regarding this situation where there is an observance of the unconscionable conduct, as for Simone, ACCC v Lux .

The court may even apply some golden rules for giving the effect to the purpose of the legislation. The occurrence of the golden rules takes place when the parliament  failed to interfere and deal with the actual matter. When there is the situation where the actual purpose of the act to meet, then in such cases the application of the golden rules takes place and is under the jurisdiction of court, Bermingham v Corrective Services Commission of New South Wales . The matter cited here, is one of the landmark decision where the observation made for the court to find out the mischief occurred with the act dealing here.

For the given situation, the matter is same for all the three accused. In this matter, when the court will apply the golden rules , it will also find out whether the part of the act is relevant for applying here along with the participation of the parliament. 


So, here the assumptions that can be drawn from the given matter, and also the suggestions that can be given to Freg, Cyril, and Simone are:

1. For all the three-person accused here, we must come to the conclusion that the common law  always governs the legislations.

2. Common law is such legislation, decided after the disposal of a certain matter.

3. Before there is a decision made from the point of the court, there is always the chance for the interpretation of the statutes.

4. That the interpretations sometimes work for the accused or sometimes in reaching to an ultimate conclusion.

5. There is scope for the application of the statutes on the ground that no legislative rules can pattern in a manner to violate the fundamental rights  of an individual.

6.  The interpretation of the statutes  also have the golden rules which are applied for giving effect to the purpose of the legislation. To understand profoundly, we can take the matter of Bermingham v Corrective Services Commission of New South Wales .

7. Operating the statutes retrospectively, in such a way when their intention was appearing with reasonable certainty which otherwise affects the rights and liability of the law defined referencing to the past events, Maxwell v Murphy .

8. Notwithstanding anything contained in Sec 5 which is the prime section of accused in this matter, there is a presence of section 15. The section explains any information provided to the commissioner officers regarding the breach of sec 5 then the commissioner can take action against the offender. So, in this matter, while we put the sec 5 as well as sec 15 and then apply the general rules of the interpretation , then we find that Cyril can be made guilty even if he is a juvenile whereas, Simone or even Fred can set free of all the accusation put against them. 

9. The matter is best guided for all the three accused with reference from the Sec 15AA of Interpretation Act 1901where there is a possibility to take the best advantage of the act under which the accused are charged.

Communication with the officers:

To: Concerned Officer(s) (name(s)),

Department: Commonwealth Drugs Commission

Sub: suggestion about possible steps that can be taken initially against the accused.

Concerned Officer(s) of the Commission, 

As per the information provided to me, there were following things that came up in my notice. The purpose of the legal notice served to you holds the concern for the ground where your department and the concerned officers can take action against the accused, Alfred. So, it is important to share the data received, in case there are something more your department needs to make amendments, kindly notify the same.


Personal information of the accused:

Accused / defendant’s name: Alfred.

Place: Brisbane.

Company: Ice-Man Pty Ltd.

Position: Director. 

A vehicle owned: red Porsche.

Bank balance: $300,000.00.

Citizen: Australian.

Country: Australia.

The defendant was accused on the ground that he bought a large amount of crystalline methamphetamine  and even stored in the warehouse, belonging to Ice-Man Pty Ltd.


The basic recommendation that can put here with the relevance is to take the reference of sec 5 of the Manufacture of Prohibited Drugs Act 2016. The sec explains that the charge can be taken against any individual who bought drugs that are prohibited for consumption and even kept it within one of the concerned places of the defendant. Hence, Alfred can be put to guilty with the offence under the said section. Apart from the mentioned section, the accused can be charged with the section of 6(1) and can make to pay compensation in the form of fine even under sec 6(2). It is also recommended for the commissioners that there is a special section of the act where the commissioners have the authority to take charges against the accused under the sec 5 or 6. The commissioners even have the authority  to carry on with the investigation under the same said act.



Communication with the accused:

To: Alfred,


Ice-Man Pty Ltd.

Place: Brisbane.

Country: Australia.

Subject: suggestion of the relief measures available against the charged sections.


The following issues rose as per the given information from your end. In case, any amendments necessary then kindly notify for the same as soon as possible 


1. That you are charged with the drug dealing and that included buying of a large amount of crystalline methamphetamine.

2. That you even kept the following within the warehouse of the mentioned business organization where you hold the post of a director.


It is my utmost duty to provide you with the relief you have asked. Hence, upon such a situation, there is some initial information which is important as well must be known to me from your end with ultimate sincerity. They are:

Nature of occurrence for drug dealing:

Date of occurrence:

Actual valuation of the property:

Vehicle(s) owned: red Porsche.

And the bank balance: $300,000.00


In the in an initial stage of the information provided to me as an advisor, can assure you to get the remedy following the general principle of interpretation of statutes along with the reference from the common law. The general principle to explain in brief provides a safeguard for the fundamental rule. The documents asked from you are required for the commencing of procures (2J). 

Apart from the mention relief let me tell you that the golden rules  are a jurisdiction that falls under the court. Hence, the information required so that it is possible for me to prepare some alternative measures as to display whether the act will apply to your matter or not. Also, the words that hav4e been put in the charge sheet so that the possible interpretation  can be applied. There is a possibility for your matter to take the best advantage of the interpretation of the legislation (15AA). The required information will further be in the use as the extrinsic material with the interpretation (15AB). There is also a possibility to change the meaning of the style and terms without affecting the actual meaning (15AC).


The assumption that can be given to you from the part of me as an advisor that there is always scope for the interpretation of the statutes concerning the fundamental rights as well as the common law.


Solicitor, (name).


Questions and explanations for part 1:

The concerned question that any adviser will ask is the personal details of the accused in the original record. The reason behind asking the personal details involves that the person accused under certain section has relevance or not. Then the concern comes about the date and occurrence of the events that followed the actual event leading to the accusing and if there is availability of interpretation . The section under which the commissioners accused the three made it needed to get the information under what ground they were charged with that section.

Questions and explanations for part 2:

Since the situation for part 2 was communication, it is supposed from my part to advise both the commissioners as well as the accused, Alfred. Hence, it is important to know the information of the accused so that some basic step could be advisable to the officers. On the other hand, since Alfred also came to seek advice, then as an advisor it is my duty to provide him relief. So the questions asked were the event occurring, nature, personal information which was quite important to give feedback. 

Necessary amendments to Manufacture of Prohibited Drugs Act 2016:

1. The necessity amendments at the prior include the mens rea of the act of an individual. Here, there is no mention of the fact that sometimes the child under 16 years do hold a maturity for performing an act.

2. The act also lacks the mention of the common law  which is an important ground for a continuation of the prosecution and give the court the jurisdiction to pass any order with reference to the common law as for other legislation it is done.

3. Nature of the compensation to change since as mentioned under sec 6(2) of the Act, the accused may be made to sell the property which might prove the violation of the fundamental right as an individual . 



 Allan,, T. R. S., “”Legislative Supremacy And Legislative Intention: I.” (2014) 63 interpretation, Meaning, and Authority” The Cambridge Law Journal 685, JSTOR 4509144

Campbell E, Lee HP, Campbell EM. The Australian Judiciary. ; (2013) Cambridge University Press.

 Common Law Rights, Human Rights Scrutiny And The Rule Of Law | Australian Human Rights Commission (2013)

Federal Register Of Legislation (2016) available at retrieved on 28 May,(2016).

Interpretation Act 1987 No 15 (2016)

 Live By The Golden Rule (Pledge/Petition/Proclamation) – Golden Rule Project (2016)

Parker, D. R., “The 2012 Metamorphosis Of The Common Law Of Compulsory Acquisition Valuation In Australia” (2015) 44 Common Law World Review.

Perez, Isabelle, “Sedat Mulayim, Miranda Lai And Caroline Norma.Police Investigative Interviews And Interpreting: Context, Challenges, And Strategies” (2016) 18 INTP

Pojanowski, Jeffrey A., “Statutes In Common Law Courts”(2012) SSRN Electronic Journal.

Rights | Australia.Gov.Au (2016)

 Statutory Interpretation (2016)

 Statutory Interpretation (2016)

Thomson, Nicola and David Moore, “Methamphetamine ‘Facts’: The Production Of A ‘Destructive’ Drug In Australian Scientific Texts” (2014) 22 Addiction Research & Theory.

Tsujikawa, Kenji et al, “Chemical Profiling Of Seized Methamphetamine Putatively Synthesized From Phenylacetic Acid Derivatives” (2013) 227 Forensic Science International.

What Are Human Rights. (2016) Amnesty Australia

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