Dale Smith, ‘What is Statutory Purpose?’

Abstract
While there is considerable disagreement about what role statutory purpose should play in the interpretation of legislation, it is widely accepted that purpose has some role to play. This is despite the fact that there is little in the way of agreement about what statutory purpose is. In this paper, to be published in a festschrift in honour of Jeff Goldsworthy, I offer an account of what statutory purpose is. I begin by distinguishing three broad accounts of statutory purpose – the first of which understands it in terms of the intentions of certain legislators, or of the legislature as a whole; the second of which understands it in terms of the intentions that a reasonable legislator would have had if he or she had enacted the statute; and the third of which understands it in terms of the functional role the statute plays within the broader legal system. I contend that each of these accounts faces significant problems …

Smith, Dale, What is Statutory Purpose? (October 25, 2018). Forthcoming in Lisa Burton, Patrick Emerton and Dale Smith (eds), Law under a Democratic Constitution: Essays in Honour of Jeffrey Goldsworthy, Hart Publishing (2019); U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No 799.

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