Teaching Statutory Interpretation in Australia: What's Next?

Jacinta Dharmananda, Patricia Lane

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Abstract

The issue of whether statutory interpretation should be taught in law schools has been a difficult and divisive topic. Australia, like other common law jurisdictions, has grappled with the issue. Those advocating that it be treated as a discrete and significant area in the law school curriculum have struggled over the last two decades. Recently, however, an important step was taken. In 2015, the Council of Australian Law Deans, which comprises the Deans of all university law schools in Australia, formally approved a Guide which acknowledges the relevance and importance of statutory interpretation in a law degree and outlines learning outcomes to be achieved. This leads to the important question of how to teach the subject. This article addresses some of the issues relevant to an assessment of how to teach statutory interpretation. Following a brief examination of the Australian, US and UK experiences, the article offers suggestions, based on the Guide, international literature, and the authors' own teaching experience, about important threshold issues such as teaching as a discrete subject, content, timing, and perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-45
JournalStatute Law Review
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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