Statutory interpretation and the Interpretation Act 1999
This is a single section from Chapter 12. Read the full chapter here.
Have you considered the specific provisions of the Interpretation Act 1999?
Legislation should be consistent with the Interpretation Act 1999. Matters that are already provided for in the Interpretation Act should not be re-stated in new legislation.
The following paragraphs are intended to raise awareness of the kinds of issues that the Interpretation Act provides for and that therefore do not need to be re-stated in the new legislation. The paragraphs do not analyse the provisions of the Interpretation Act in depth. Nor do they explain how the common law supplements those provisions.
The Interpretation Act contains provisions relating to the aspects noted below.
- The date and time of day when Acts and regulations come into force (ss 8–10).
- In what circumstances a power granted by an Act may be exercised before that Act comes into force (s 11).
- General rules that concern when a power may be exercised by a delegate. Examples include what powers are deemed to be held by someone granted the power to appoint a person to an office and the power to make or issue delegated legislation; and when a person may exercise a power to correct minor errors in the prior exercise of that power (ss 12–16).
- The effect that repealing legislation will have on existing rights, powers and situations, things that may have been done under the repealed legislation, and on legislation that the repealed legislation amended or repealed. This includes rules concerning the fate of enactments made under the repealed legislation, powers previously exercised under the repealed enactment, and how to treat references to the repealed enactment in other legislation (ss 17–22).
- Legislation will not bind the Crown unless the enactment expressly says so. The practice in New Zealand is for all legislation to apply to the Crown (s 27) (see Chapter 10).
Any of these provisions can be overridden, extended or restricted by clear language in a particular case; but that should be done deliberately and only if necessary.