Legislating, Decision-Making, Practice and Education
Edited by Mary Hiscock and William van Caenegem
Chapter 2: Internationalisation and Statutory Interpretation – Looking Wide and Looking Deep
Suzanne Corcoran* This chapter argues that a more dynamic perspective on statutory interpretation is necessary in order to properly accommodate the impact of globalisation and comparative scholarship on the writing of statutes. The fact that most law these days is statute based is universally recognised. The fact that transnational developments and comparative analysis are a factor in the writing of legislation is also an easily demonstrated reality. Many would argue that it has ever been so. What is more difficult and more problematic is the question of why all of this front end ‘international influence’ does not make it out the back end. Why is it that statutory interpretation, at least in Australia (and also I think in the United States) seems to suffer from a much more parochial frame of mind? There is a complicating (or enriching) factor in the relationship of globalisation and legislative drafting and policy that gets lost on the way to litigation and interpretation. If we are going to bridge that gap, we first must understand that it is there. Professor Mary Ann Glendon, a professor of comparative law, has identified a similar situation with statutory interpretation in the United States and lamented the inability of American lawyers to recognise that their skills with legislation are primitive.1 She sees this disability in drafting, analysing and interpreting legislation as something American lawyers seem largely unaware of. She tells the story of Igor in the film Young Frankenstein where Gene Wilder as the doctor says ‘Perhaps I...
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