This guide recognises that statutory interpretation is a discrete area of law of critical importance to the practice of law. It makes suggestions for teaching statutory interpretation in Australian law schools.
It suggests that attention needs to be given to laying a solid foundation early in the law degree, and ensuring that that foundation does not diminish but develops through iterative learning.
The foundation comprises learning the general principles, the general method, and the central interpretative criteria of the law governing statutory interpretation.
To ensure a student has acquired a solid foundation it suggests that law schools institute a hurdle requirement in the subject in which that solid foundation is laid down. The hurdle is a test of a student’s competence to interpret legislation at that level. Only if a student passes that hurdle should a student be considered to be eligible to pass that subject.
It is suggested that opportunities for iterative learning occur in later subjects in which statutory interpretation is a major issue. These opportunities will occur if a coordinated effort is made within each law school to ensure that statutory interpretation is taught and assessed in those subjects.
The guide includes an extensive number of examples of teaching and assessment practice that are likely to foster appropriate learning and development of a student’s knowledge and ability in the area of statutory interpretation.