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The Parliamentary Draftsman (2)

It is likely I was unfair to the Parliamentary Draftsman HERE.

Who can now say what was intended by the legislation? In Ireland, the answer to that question is “the Courtsâ€?.

Unlike some other jurisdictions we do not seek the meaning of words used in legislation by, for instance, interviewing the people involved in the introduction of the legislation. In the case of Section 20 of the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005, if we were to follow that course we would have to interview the then Minister for Justice. But even that would not be sufficient. He did not “passâ€? the legislation; he introduced it to the Oireachtas. It was the Oireachtas that passed it.

It is not feasible to interview the members of the Oireachats to find out what they intended. Even if it were feasible to do so, it would be wrong. It would be an admission that nobody knew the meaning and purpose of the legislation until the views of those members was ascertained. Even the idea of something being “ascertainedâ€? is a problem.

Who will formulate the question to be put to the members?

Who will interpret the confused, inarticulate replies? (Some, at least, will be such).

No, indeed. We need the principles of Statutory Interpretation.

A golden age of Statutory Interpretation has just opened in Ireland.

The future is bright for its practitioners.

One Comment

  1. I feel that the Common Law has served very well on governing statutory interpretation for the majority of the last thousand years. I regret the fact that it is under assault and greatly imperiled. To some extent this arises from the civil-law-derived directive model of the EU, and even more terminally from politicians who fail to comprehend it, especially in the UK.