Reading words into statutes : when Homer nods

Lumb, Stephen R. & Christensen, Sharon (2014) Reading words into statutes : when Homer nods. Australian Law Journal, 88(9), pp. 661-677.

View at publisher


The grammatical meaning of a statutory provision may not always gel with the purpose of the statute. The court may strive to give the provision an interpretation at odds with its ordinary and natural meaning to meet the purpose of the legislation. On occasion, this may involve notionally adding words to, or substituting words in, a statutory provision. This process of “reading in” words demands that close attention be paid to the boundary between statutory construction and judicial legislation, particularly where a court is invited to carve out an exception from grammatically clear words. In Jones v Wrotham Park Settled Estates [1980] AC 74, Lord Diplock identified three pre-conditions to reading words into a statute. This article analyses the utility of those conditions within the context of the modern purposive approach to statutory interpretation and evaluates whether they remain sufficient guideposts for identifying the boundary between interpretation and legislation.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

256 since deposited on 17 Sep 2014
119 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 76206
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: statutory interpretation, purposive approach , reading in words to legislation
ISSN: 0004-9611
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Commercial & Property Law Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters (Australia/NZ)/Lawbook Ltd
Deposited On: 17 Sep 2014 22:13
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2014 15:23

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page