• Class Number 3552
  • Term Code 3140
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Daniel Stewart
    • Daniel Stewart
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 01/03/2021
  • Class End Date 14/05/2021
  • Census Date 02/04/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 08/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

Legislation dominates the contemporary legal landscape.  Almost all fields of legal regulation involve legislation in some form. The ability to interpret and understand the operation of legislation is a skill essential to understanding law and its operation.
This course will provide an advanced study of the rules and principles governing statutory interpretation.
Students who have encountered statue law in a variety of contexts (criminal law, torts law, administrative law etc) and been introduced to the relevant common law principles, will benefit from a more detailed consideration of statutory interpretation as a fundamental skill involved in all areas of practice but particularly those areas involving government.
The course will cover the following topics:
•    The legislative process and its role in statutory interpretation, including the role of extrinsic materials
•    Approaches to the interpretation of legislation, including comparisons with interpretation of contracts and treaties.
•    Interpretation Acts and drafting conventions
•    Extrinsic and intrinsic aids to assist in interpretation, including role of legal assumption
•    Remedial, penal and fiscal provisions
•    Obligatory and discretionary provisions.
•    Commencement and retrospective effect of legislation
•    Consistency and contrariety of legislative provisions and legislation.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain, distinguish and apply the principles and process of statutory interpretation
  2. Compare, contrast and reflect on the theoretical concepts underlying and impacting on approaches to statutory interpretation and its application in professional practice.
  3. Plan, differentiate and prioritise approaches and materials used in statutory interpretation while working collaboratively.
  4. Select and apply a range of legal research principles and methods in interpreting legal instruments.

Required Resources

The problem based approach to this course means that there will be no specific reading specified. However, students will benefit from ready access to D.C. Pearce and R.S. Geddes, Statutory Interpretation in Australia (9th ed 2019, LexisNexis). An electronic version of this text will be available from the ANU Library.

Students may also find D.C Pearce, Interpretation Acts in Australia, (2018, LexisNexis), and D Pearce and S Argument, Delegated Legislation in Australia (4th ed, 2017, LexisNexis) useful.

Additional materials and resources may be made available on the WATTLE site as reading for the intensive classes. Non-lawyers are expected to be familiar with this material.

The on-line exercises will also be accompanied where needed with extra material available on WATTLE. The course convenor may also provide additional material to students in particular groups as they progress through the exercises.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • feedback to the whole class, to groups, and to individuals

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Extensions and Late penalties - https://policies.anu.edu.au/ppl/document/ANUP_004604

Deferred examination: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/deferred-examinations

Special consideration: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/special-assessment-consideration

Penalties for excess word length: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures

Distribution of Grades Policy: Effective from Winter Session and Second Semester 2018 (and until further notice), the current Grading Distribution Policy has been suspended pending the development of a new policy. 

For further information about this interim policy please see: https://law.anu.edu.au/current-students/policies-procedures/grading

Further Information about the Course: is available from the course WATTLE page. Students are required to access the WATTLE site regularly throughout the course for details on weekly classes and any announcements relating to the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Students will engage with the introductory materials available on the course Wattle page, and enroll into groups. See the course outline available on the wattle page for more details on the method of teaching.
2 6 weeks of on-line group discussion of weekly statutory interpretation problems posted on the course Wattle site.

Tutorial Registration

All student should enrol in a group in the first week of the on-line course

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Group Work 20 % * 27/04/2021 1,3,4
Statutory interpretation problem assignment OR Essay 80 % 14/05/2021 04/06/2021 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation in weekly problem solving exercises is included as an element of assessment task 1.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Return of Assessment: 27/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4

Group Work

Nature of Task: Students are asked to participate in each of the interpretation challenges presented in the on-line component of the course.

Weighting: 20%

Release: Problem questions will be released each week commencing 7/3/2021

Due date: ongoing each week with the last answer due on Monday 19/4/21 at 5 pm.

Estimated return date: It is expected that marks and feedback on their group work component will be returned to students within 1 week of the completion of the group work component of the course.

Assessment Criteria: Students will be assessed by reference to how well they demonstrate the following:

Preparation and understanding of the problem scenario

  • Reading through and considering the range of issues presented by the problem in advance of any discussion with the group
  • Recognising any links between the issues presented by the problem and discussion of previous problems encountered in the course.

Thinking critically about the problems

  • Looking at the problem and questions presented from different angles or perspectives
  • Questioning assumptions that might underlie different approaches to the problem
  • Suggesting a range of approaches or responses to the problems.

Expressing ideas clearly

  • So that other students and the group convenor can understand them
  • Use of relevant examples where appropriate.

Engaging with other students in the discussion

  • Including encouraging others to share their views
  • Responding to what others have said
  • Being respectful of a range of views and opinions
  • Being open to taking on a range of different tasks within the group response to the problem.

If possible, linking material with your own background and knowledge

  • Which involves relating the material to your own personal and professional experience.

When acting as the problem coordinator, fairly and appropriately:

  • assisting with the allocation of tasks so as to cover the issues presented by the problem
  • bringing together the range of views expressed by the group in response to the problem.

Note that students will not be assessed on the extent they have ‘identified the correct answer to the problem’. Rather assessment of the group work task is based on their contribution to the process of developing a group approach to the problem and reflecting on that process.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 80 %
Due Date: 14/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 04/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Statutory interpretation problem assignment OR Essay

Students can choose between a Statutory Interpretation problem assignment OR an Essay.

Statutory interpretation problem assignment

Nature of Task: Students will be required to respond in writing to a problem similar in structure to those encountered during the on-line component of the course.

Weighting: 80%

Word limit: 4800 - 6400

Release: The Assignment problem will be available in the week following conclusion of the group work component of the course (ie by 19 April 2021).

Due date: 5 pm on 14 May 2021. Late submissions are permitted but a late penalty will be imposed.

Estimated return date: 4 June 2021.

Assessment Criteria: Students will be assessed by reference to how well they demonstrate/deal with the following:

a) Content

  • answering the question asked
  • identification of the legal issues relating to statutory interpretation raised by the question/s
  • legal principles stated/explained with accuracy and in appropriate detail and authorities accurately cited
  • relevant facts recognised and linked to the legal principles
  • recognition and evaluation of judicial and statutory ambiguities and ‘grey areas’
  • originality/innovation in approach to issues
  • clear conclusions

b) Structure/organisation

  • emphasis on the significant issues
  • answer is coherent and structure is logical

c) Expression

  • good use of structure, section headings and paragraphs
  • clarity and conciseness of expression, interesting and engaging for reader
  • use of appropriate terminology and correct grammar, syntax and spelling



Nature of Task: Students who choose the essay option can choose any topic relevant to statutory interpretation.

Weighting: 80%

Word limit: 4800-6400 words

Release: A list of potential topics will be released in the week following conclusion of the group work component of the course (ie by 19 April 2021). Any student who wishes to write on any other topic must seek approval from the course convenor prior to 26 April 2021.

Due date: 5 pm on 14 May 2021

Estimated return date: 4 June 2021

Assessment Criteria: Students will be assessed by reference to how well they demonstrate/deal with the following:

Understanding of the Issues

  • essay addresses a topic relevant to statutory interpretation
  • evidence of close consideration of the topic and the research materials drawn on
  • issues raised by the topic are clearly and concisely identified
  • essay reflects a critical engagement with the theory of statutory interpretation and its application in professional practice
  • material chosen relates clearly to the topic and is analysed, not just summarised or quoted extensively

Communication & Development of Argument

  • clear theme or argument
  • arguments are logical and well-organised
  • ideas/paragraphs are linked coherently


  • originality of ideas and critical analysis of the material
  • complexity and insight in dealing with theory/ideas
  • suggestions for change where appropriate
  • interdisciplinary perspective where appropriate
  • addressing opposing arguments
  • well-reasoned conclusions


  • research covering primary and secondary materials
  • good organisation of sources and ability to synthesise all the research materials used
  • use of theoretical material where appropriate
  • range of research sources
  • integration of material from research resources into the essay

Presentation, style and referencing

  • good use of structure, section headings and paragraphs
  • clarity and conciseness of expression, interesting and engaging of reader
  • use of appropriate terminology and correct grammar, syntax and spelling
  • full and accurate footnotes together with a bibliography
  • style according to latest edition of Australian Guide to Legal Citation
  • adherence to word limit

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Feedback on student assessment will be available via the course WATTLE page.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Daniel Stewart
02 6125 8370

Research Interests

Daniel has extensive expertise in administrative law and statutory interpretation. A senior lecturer at the ANU College of Law, Daniel’s administrative law expertise spans the scope and nature of judicial review, the role, interpretation and drafting of legislation, and the use and disclosure of government information. Daniel teaches as number of advanced and specialised courses on these areas including a postgraduate course on statutory interpretation and a course on information law which focuses on secrecy, privacy and access to government information.

Daniel is the independent Research Monitor for Australia as part of the international Open Government Partnership, reporting on developments relating to access to information in Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments. Daniel has authored leading publications on administrative law and delivered numerous papers on topics including the role of policy in administrative decision-making. His most recent publications include a chapter on ‘Assessing Access to Information in Australia: The impact of freedom of information laws on the scrutiny and operation of the Commonwealth Government’ in recent ANU E-Press monograph, and a chapter examining the role and scrutiny of delegated legislation in a monograph in tribute to Dennis Pearce which he co-edited.

Daniel is the legal advisor for Bills for the ACT Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety (Legislative Scrutiny Role). He also acts as a consultant to HWL Ebsworth solicitors. He regularly advises and acts for a variety of government departments on matters involving statutory interpretation and merits and judicial review. He conducts various seminars, workshops and training courses addressing legal issues in regulatory design and compliance, decision-making and statements of reasons, statutory interpretation, FOI and privacy and merits and judicial review.

Daniel Stewart

By Appointment
Daniel Stewart

Research Interests

Daniel Stewart

By Appointment

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