LAWS3281/JURD7581 Statutory Interpretation

Student: Lyndon Goddard

Please give us a brief overview of the main topics studied in the course
The course covers the use of extrinsic materials, interpretation provisions, linguistic presumptions and other aids to construction, and substantive presumptions, as well as other ancillary topics (including theoretical considerations). These are matters that will have relevance in almost any law-related occupation.

What were the course assessments and your thoughts about them?
There is a compulsory 20% class participation component, which is marked using a ‘panel’ system, which works very well. The consequence is that you need only do the readings for the four or five classes for which you are on the panel. (Beware, however, that it can sometimes be a little difficult to properly follow the detail of the class material if you have not at least familiarised yourself with the readings in advance). There is a 30% optional essay, and then a take-home exam at the end of the semester (worth 50% or 80%), comprising a problem question and two essay-style questions.

What did you like about the course?
The course was highly intellectually stimulating – partly because of the way it was taught, and partly because of the difficulty of the subject-matter. Unusually for a law subject, the readings tend to be full High Court judgments. They take time and effort to read (and re-read), particularly in order to keep up with (lecturer) James Emmett’s questions and discussion points. He is a fantastic lecturer, with an insightful knowledge of all the cases and a rigorous and clear method of teaching.

What could be improved?
There is no prescribed textbook, and I felt that the addition of one would have assisted in crystallising the concepts taught in class, particularly for those classes when you are not on the class participation panel. The main recommended text (which I bought in advance of the final exam, and found highly useful) was Statutory Interpretation in Australia by Pearce and Geddes. It is the standard practitioners’ text for the subject, and it’s useful at any rate to have a copy on your bookshelf!