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9 Cards in this Set

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Acts of parliament are applied to the cases that come before the courts.

Acts of parliament are applied to the cases that come before the courts. When a case before the courts relates to a law contained in an Act of parliament, it is necessary for the courts to apply the law to that case.

The words in the Act are given meaning

The words in the Act are given meaning. The courts cannot change the words in an Act but can interpret the words and give them meaning that will then be followed in the future.

The parties to the case are bound by the decision.

The parties to the case are bound by the decision. Once a court has reached a decision, the parties to the case are bound by that decision unless one of the parties appeals against the decision and the decision is reversed; others in similar situations in the same court hierarchy in the future are also bound by the decision.

Precedents are set for future cases

Precedents are set for future cases to follow. The interpretation of the words in an Act forms a precedent that is then read together as part of the law with the Act of parliament. This type of law-making is carried out by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The precedents created by these courts may be extended or changed in higher courts (the High Court can overrule its own decisions).

Consistency and predictability

People in the future can, to some extent, predict the outcome of a case because of the consistency of the courts in following previous decisions of the courts and deciding like cases in a like manner.

Courts can overrule or reverse a previous decision of courts

Courts can overrule or reverse a previous decision of courts. If a precedent is set when interpreting a word in an Act, and the case is taken to a higher court on appeal, the previous decision can be reversed and a new precedent set. Likewise, if a new case is taken to a higher court, the higher court can overrule the previous precedent and set a new precedent on the interpretation of the words in an Act.

Parliament can abrogate law made by courts.

Parliament can abrogate law made by courts. Parliament is the supreme law-making body and is able to change law made through the courts. If parliament believes that the court’s interpretations are not in line with its intention when passing the Act in question, the parliament can pass a law that overrides (abrogates) a decision of a court. This has the effect of cancelling a precedent set by a court (parliament cannot change a precedent set by the High Court when interpreting the Constitution – this would require a referendum).

Restricting the law through a narrow interpretation of a statute

Restricting the law through a narrow interpretation of a statute – if the court interprets a word or phrase narrowly, this could restrict the scope of the law. For example, Deing v. Tarola restricted the definition of regulated weapon to items likely to be used for an offensive or aggressive purpose only.

Extending the law by a broad interpretation of a statute

Extending the law by a broad interpretation of a statute – a broad interpretation of a word or phrase in an Act can extend the law to cover a new situation or area. For example, the decision in the Tasmanian Dam case extended the interpretation of the phrase ‘external affairs’ in the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act to include areas covered by international treaties. This case set a precedent and, from that time, the meaning of the words ‘external affairs’ has been extended and the Commonwealth Parliament has jurisdiction over areas covered by international treaties. (See the case study in chapter 3 for more information.)