The principle of legality as clear statement rule: significance and problems

Meagher, D R 2014, The principle of legality as clear statement rule: significance and problems, Sydney Law Review, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 413-443.

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Title The principle of legality as clear statement rule: significance and problems
Author(s) Meagher, D RORCID iD for Meagher, D R
Journal name Sydney Law Review
Volume number 36
Issue number 3
Start page 413
End page 443
Total pages 31
Publisher Lawbook Co
Place of publication Sydney, NSW
Publication date 2014-09
ISSN 0082-0512
Summary In Australia, the common law principle of legality has hardened into a strong clear statement rule that is applied when legislation engages common law rights and freedoms. It has transformed a loose collection of rebuttable interpretive presumptions into a quasi-constitutional common law bill of rights. However, these developments are not without controversy or issue. The analysis undertaken in this article suggests that the principle of legality as clear statement rule -- as mandated by the High Court in Coco v The Queen -- can only work legitimately if Parliament has clear and prior notice of the rights and freedoms that it operates to protect. But it is problematic if what a common law right, such as freedom of speech, requires or guarantees in any given legislative context is unclear and contested, and so must be judicially divined at the point of application. In these cases, the principle operates to enforce a (post-legislative) judicial approximation of what best protects and promotes an abstract legal value or principle. It amounts to the illegitimate judicial remaking of prior legislative decisions on rights. This undercuts the normative justifications for the principle of legality as it obscures from Parliament the common law (rights) backdrop against which its legislation is enacted and interpreted.
Language eng
Field of Research 180122 Legal Theory, Jurisprudence and Legal Interpretation
Socio Economic Objective 940407 Legislation
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2014, Lawbook Co.
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