The concept of ‘coherence’ has become a fundamental principle in Australian law. On numerous occasions, the High Court has emphasised the importance of coherence within the common law, and between statute and common law. But it has not fully explained what ‘coherence’ is. In most decisions in which coherence is mentioned, it refers to some kind of ‘consistency’ in the law, but this is quite unspecific. The Court has also not explained why it considers coherence to be important. This article attempts to explicate the concept of ‘co-herence’, as it appears in decisions of the High Court. It argues that the High Court is attempting to achieve consistency in the law’s underlying normative reasons, and explains in more detail what this requires. It also identifies several arguments that potentially support the reliance on coherence in common law reasoning.
Andrew Fell, The Concept of Coherence in Australian Private Law, Melbourne University Law Review, Volume 41(3) forthcoming (2018).