TimeBase: Answering your Questions About Court Reference Materials

Wednesday 1 August 2018 @ 10.02 a.m.

It can sometimes be confusing to work out what materials form part of the Act or Regulation and what materials can be relied upon by the judiciary for interpretation in court proceedings.

Luckily, there is statutory guidance in almost all jurisdictions for this conundrum.

What Material Forms Part of the Legislation?

In essence, all headings, footnotes, preambles, long titles and enacting words form part of the Act as well as any schedules or appendices, however an endnote (which is what the Table of Acts and Table of Amendments, or those sections as represented in each jurisdiction, are classified as) are not considered part of the Act and are extrinsic materials useful for interpretation.

Legislation references - Material Forming part of the Act:

  • Act Interpretation Act 1901 (CTH) - s 13
  • Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW) - s 5
  • Interpretation Act (NT) - s 55
  • Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (QLD) - s 14
  • Acts Interpretation Act 1931 (TAS) - s 6
  • Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (VIC) - s 36
  • Interpretation Act 1984 (WA) - ss 31 and 32

And What Material Can be Relied Upon for Interpretation?

Generally, the documents which are considered extrinsic materials useful for interpretation can be considered any or all of the following (please check the provisions outlined below for your jurisdiction):

  • documents printed by the Government printer;
  • relevant reports by committees or law reform commissions;
  • treaties or international agreements;
  • explanatory memoranda or explanatory notes attached to the Bill;
  • speeches made in Parliament; and
  • materials introduced as part of the official records in Hansard or Parliamentary journals.

Legislation references - Material Used for Interpretation:

  • Act Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) - s 15AB
  • Legislation Act 2001 (ACT)- s 142
  • Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW) - s 34
  • Interpretation Act (NT) - s 62B
  • Act Interpretation Act 1954 (QLD) - s 14B
  • Acts Interpretation Act 1915 (SA) - s 19
  • Act Interpretation Act 1931 (TAS) - s 8B
  • Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (VIC) - s 35
  • Interpretation Act 1984 (WA) - s 19 

For answers to these questions and many more legislative information resources, try looking at our Information Resource Centre or Using TimeBase Effectively.

Alternatively, if you prefer to talk to a real person, contact us through service@timebase.com.au or our Legislation Hotline and our Sydney based, legally qualified editorial team will be more than happy to answer your questions.