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Civil Law Assignment: Case Analysis Based On Statutory Interpretation Law


Task: Consider the following hypothetical scenario and prepare a civil law assignment: The Commonwealth government recently introduced the Prohibited Groups (Anti-Terrorism) Bill in response to public calls for specific legislation to deal with the threat of terrorism. The Minister introducing the bill said in the second reading speech:

“The government understands the insidious threat of terrorism in Australian society and this bill creates strong legal sanctions against groups that advocate violence, or seek to pursue their goals through violence. This bill is being introduced to provide very serious penalties to extremists planning attacks against Australian citizens and in doing so will prevent civilian casualties on Australian soil. The government is doing everything it can to keep the people of Australia safe and to stop extremist violence in its tracks. This bill is about protecting the people of Australia from injury, death or harm.”

The Bill was passed and received Royal Assent from the Governor General on 26 July 2021. It was gazetted the next day. It reads as follows:
Prohibited Groups (Anti-Terrorism) Act 2021
1. Short Title
This Act may be cited as the Prohibited Groups (Anti-Terrorism) Act.

2. Definitions
“Terrorist Act” means any unlawful act done in the furtherance of political or religious ideology for the purpose of damaging property or life.

“Prohibited Group” means any group formed for the purposes of committing terrorist and related acts. “Weapon” includes knives, spears, swords and other tools.
“Dangerous goods” means explosives, highly flammable liquids, or any material capable of causing an explosion. 3. Commission of a Terrorist Act
Any person who, whilst a member of a prohibited group, commits a terrorist act is guilty of an offence. Penalty: Up to 10 years imprisonment.
4. Supply a Terrorist Group
Any person who knowingly supplies weapons or dangerous goods to any member of a terrorist group is guilty of an offence. Penalty: $10000 fine or up to 1-year imprisonment.
5. Promote Terrorist Activities
Any person who forms, joins, distributes information on behalf of, or promotes, the activities of a group is guilty of an offence.

Penalty: Up to 18 months imprisonment FACTS:
On 18th September, Wendy, Travis and Linda come to your office to ask for assistance. They tell you that last year, Wendy and Travis watched a gruesome documentary about the meat industry and after that they both decided to become vegan. They advise that ever since that time they have felt very strongly that it is morally wrong for people to eat meat and animal products. On 1st August 2021 Wendy and Travis made a pact with each other to do everything in their power to stop the killing of animals for food. They set up watch out the front of the local abattoir. Every morning and evening for a couple of weeks they would sit at the gate and watch the trucks coming and going. When the trucks were leaving, they recorded the noise from the trucks and on the recordings, they say you can hear some of the animals still making noises as if they were still half alive. Wendy and Travis tell you that on the 18th of August they decided to take some concrete action about this, so Travis sent a message to all of his friends on Facebook telling them they need to start protesting. The only person who replied was his friend Linda. The three organised to meet the next day and at that discussion they planned action for the weekend on the 28th August.

The plan was for Linda and Travis to keep a watch outside while Wendy carried out the plan. She would use some bolt cutters and cut a hole into the wire fence at night. She would then use an oxyacetylene welder to burn the lock off the front door and then set up a camera inside. When the cameras were working Lind and Travis would set it up to stream what was happening inside the factory the next day on Facebook and let the media know that the streaming was happening. On the Saturday everything went to plan. Linda worked at a hardware store and so on that morning she bought the bolt cutters and the welder and gave them to Wendy on the night. She also let her friend know at the ABC that the streaming was going to happen.

The streaming showed extreme instances of cruelty in the abattoir and resulted in a media outrage and criminal charges against the owner. Unfortunately for your clients, the Federal police were also called in and decided to charge them with offences under the Prohibited Groups (Anti-Terrorism) Act. Wendy was charged under s3 and 5, Travis was charged under s5, and Linda was charged under s4 and s5. Using the law of statutory interpretation only, use IRAC to advise your clients whether, in your opinion, they have committed any of the offences for which they have been charged. Do not discuss criminal law principles (including defences), constitutional law or any other area of law. Refer to statutory interpretation law only.


For this civil law assignment, the IRAC method has been taken into considerations wherein the key issues, applicable rule, how it will be applied and the ultimate conclusion focusing on the given scenario has been discussed accordingly.

As per the given scenario, it has been understood that the three friends Wendy, Travis, and Linda decided to avoid eating meat and dairy products and wants to stop the killing of animals for food. On the other hand, they had also decided to save the animals that are illegally transported wherein one fine day, they heard the sound of animals in a truck with weird sound as if they are half alive. Concerning this, the three friends decided to expose the heinous act of the owner, slaughtering an animal in a cruel way. Thus, they make a plan wherein Linda and Travis watched outside while Wendy executed the plan further. With the use of some bolt cutters, make a hole into the wire fence at night, and to burn the lock, they used oxyacetylene in the front door then fix the camera inside. Here, it can be said that the three friends were successful in executing their plan wherein the owner was exposed to a heinous act that shows live streaming of extreme instances of cruelty in the slaughterhouse and resulted in criminal charges and media atrocity against the owner.

Regrettably, Linda, Wendy, and Travis were arrested by Federal law for violating the Prohibited Groups (Anti-Terrorism) Act. In this case, Wendy was charged under sections 3 and 5, Travis was charged under sections 5, and Linda was charged under sections 4 and 5. Therefore, using the law of statutory interpretation law of Australia, it is important to advise the three clients that they have committed any of the offences for which they have been charged.

Considering the case study, it can be said that the rule applicable in the given scenario is the statutory interpretation law of Australia. This law is the process wherein the courts interpret and execute legislation that is the Acts of Parliament . Despite the fact that the law is controlled in writing, the procedure of understanding the law is compound and can be said to be the matter of arequest. Hence, the vital principles of conducting statutory interpretation are recurrently asserted, with no deceptive disparity, in judgments of the Australian High Court. As per the research, it has been found that the legislation involves determining significanceas of close deliberation of the context, text, and intention (rule) of any disputed clauses. Interpreting law has been explained by the Hon K Kirby AC as an ability but not a science . In the past several years, courts have used diverseways to support the finding of legislation significance wherein four rules have been taken into considerations:

1. Literal Rule- A elementary rule of a statutory structure lacking the interpretation of a statute as per the principle of legislatureneeds to be identified by a verbal communication examination utilised in the law wholly. Generally, this lawdiscovers its base in the concerns and the function of the political neutrality of the courts because it is intended for the Parliament but not the courts to articulate procedure and to plan and sanction law providing results to that policy .
2. Mischief Rule- A law necessitating the structure of doubtful phrases or statements in law in the aspect of the defect or mischief in the current rulewherein the law was projected to the solution.
3. Golden Rule- A statutory rule structure needs the structure of statutes as per their ordinary and natural significance except this causes doubt. Hence, where there is no doubt the ordinary and natural meaning should be followed to, hence illogical or unfair the outcome, without such an outcome is conflicting to the objective of the legislature.
4. Purpose Rule- An approach to a statutory structure where a specific clause is construed according to theprinciple of the statute. Conventionally, it was practical only where literal rule generated a doubt or variation. The intention is distinguished by seeking at the statue wholly along with extrinsic supports such as parliamentary arguments, international agreements, and commissions where relevant.
The number of legislations legislated annually from both the Parliament and Commonwealth has increased significantly in current periods and mutually compound the nature of latest regulation has fostered transformations in the legislations of how statutory interpretation is conducted by the courts . Hence, there has been a change as of the insight that law had one precise implication, and the judiciary was left to look for long and challenging to decide that significance. However, considering the four rules of statutory interpretation law, the rule will be applicable in the given scenario. Moreover, the most basic rule of statutory interpretation needs that judges must review the challenging phrase or provisions in their context in the statute wholly that is the intrinsic material. Hence, considering this material, the judges form certain principles that drive the significance of headings and preambles, etc. The courts’ constitutional role is merely to interpret and execute points of law conducted from Parliament Acts and given legislation. Here, it can be said that as per the Australian law of statutory interpretation, Wendy, Linda and Travis have not followed this legislation before performing an act of exposing the owner for animal cruelty. Therefore, the rule of statutory law has been applied in this case wherein the Federal law has interpreted statutes with the aim to give meaning to a conflict point of legislation to demonstrate what Parliament stands for to have planned called interpretation. In addition to this, it has been understood that in determining the concrete meaning of the law, judges might use three out of four conventional rules of interpretation that have been discussed above wherein the court employs to regulate the statute purpose . The courts also depend on the regulations of materials and language to support statutory interpretation. Furthermore, these rules are more an approach as judges have to make an effective verdict while interpreting the regulation.

In order to apply the statutory interpretation law, the literal rule can be used with reference to the case study i.e., Duport Steel v Sirs (1980) and Fisher v Bell (1960). Under this literal rule, the judge considers what the statute in point of fact states instead of what it might mean. Thus, it acquires this, the judge will deliver the statements in the statute within the meaning of literal, that is, their basic and regular meaning even if the impact of this is to generate what may be measured as an otherwise unfair or objectionable outcome . The literal rule states that the purpose of Parliament is effectively identified in the natural and ordinary meaning of the phrase used. As part of democratic legislation, Parliament will take what exactly the written law has been passed and what it says in its laws. However, if the judiciary is authorized to provide an apparent or meaning of non-literal to the phrases of law-making regulations, then the parliament will, and thus the individuals are being reversed. Studies state that where the meaning of the statutory terms is simple and clear without any doubt as it is not then for the judges to discover pictured doubts as a justification for deteriorating to deliver influence to its simple implication as they measure the outcomes for performing so can be inappropriate, or even unfair or decadent.

However, the literal rule is established and used by the Fisher v Bell (1960) case wherein an act of offensive restriction 1959 has been violated by James Bell wherein he offers a sale of offensive weapons such as flick knives. A Bristol shopkeeper named James Bell represented a form of weapon in his window of the shop in the passageway at Broadmead. Hence, the Divisional Court assumed that he will not be sentenced under violating a law as giving the language in the law a constricted literal sense, Mr. Bell was not making a sale or offering knives. However, in contract law, placing anything in the window is not officially arecommendation for adeal; it is merely an incitement to delicacy. Here, it can be said that incitement to delicacy is an incitement to others to offer for sale, as by demonstrating products in a shop window. Hence, it is the customer who offers cash for a product that was displayed in the window .

However, in the case of Wendy, Travis, and Linda, though they make an effort to rescue and stop animal cruelty, wherein in the eyes of Federal law they violate the law by using some bolt cutters and cut holes into the wire fence at night and also they used oxyacetylene welder to burn the front door lock. In these situations, they could have harmed themselves or damaged property that is having a huge number of animals. Thus, considering the Prohibited Groups (Anti-Terrorism) Act 2021, an act of using a weapon such as knives, swords, spears, and other tools that can cause harm to other are highly prohibited. But the Federal law cannot sentence them under sections 3,4 and 5 of the Prohibited Groups Act 2021 as they have not committed any crime or terrorist activity. Therefore, considering the law of statutory interpretation, literal law can be applied as it helps to make a better judgment wherein it will respect the parliamentary domination and Parliament’s right to make any regulations it may prefer, no matter how illogical they may seem. It promotes accuracy in planning and makes sure that every individual who can read English can regulate the regulation that encourages conviction and minimizes proceedings. Moreover, the literal rule can disturb the law-making in parliament in an optimistic way as the power of the parliament is valued and the responsibility of the judges in the court is to place the law further made by the parliament to the hearers attending the argument . In addition to this, in the case of Fisher v Bell (1960), the literal rule was used wherein the court defends under the offer through literal law; the seller had not offered any sellto the customers and was not at fault for the crime. Consequently, Parliament has modified the rule to formulate it specifically that demonstrates a flick knife in the window of the shop generally means the shopkeeper is offering for sale and has been stated as an offence. Thus, it can be said thatthe application of literal law under statutory interpretation law states that the clients have not committed any offence by using unprotected weapons as well as streaming live without the consent of Federal law.

After analyzing the overall case study and the applicable rule within the scenario, it can be said that with the development of legislation comes a rising ro9le for the courts' judgment to interpret what Parliament is trying to state to the common public and those in authority. Hence, this is not an automatic procedure, the judge as an interpreter has a definite amount of preference or optimal in determining the significance of phrases and the result that follows. The preference is not merely one that aligns with the own preferences of judges. Hence, there are comprehensive contextual considerations and a set of certain rules that are controlled in the legislation of statutory interpretation. However, it can be said that Wendy has been charged under sections 3 and 5 wherein he violated the law or commission of a Terrorist Act and Promote Terrorist Activities, whereas Travis was charged under section 5 by promoting terrorist activities along with Linda with sections 4 and 5 that claims for supplying a terrorist group and promotes the terrorist activities. Here, it can be said that the clients make a plan and use several weapons to reveal the heinous act of the owner who slaughter animals and the plan does not indicate to supply terrorist groups as well as performing terrorist activities. Considering this, it can be said that the judgment passed by the Federal law is baseless and the clients should not be subject to the sections they have been convicted for no reason as they helped the Federal law to avoid and stop animal cruelty. In order to conclude, it can be said that with the application of Literal rule under statutory interpretation law, the Federal law must change its verdict that has been given to the clients as they are innocent and have not committed the alleged offence.


2. MICHAEL KIRBY, “Kirby, Michael --- ‘Statutory Interpretation: The Meaning of Meaning’ [2011] MelbULawRw 3; (2011) 35(1) Melbourne University Law Review 113,” (2011) .

3., Francis Burt Law Education Programme (2016) . 4., A GUIDE to READING, INTERPRETING and APPLYING STATUTES 1 (2017) . 5. G Sartor, F Macagn and Douglas Walton, “Contested Cases of Statutory Interpretation” (2016) .

6. Law edu, “Judges and the Law,” OpenLearn (2013) .

7., 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 October 2021].

8Mason, K., 2014. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 October 2021].


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