Statutory interpretation and the Interpretation Act 1999
This is a single section from Chapter 13. Read the full chapter here.
Have the specific provisions of the Interpretation Act 1999 been considered?
Legislation should be consistent with the Interpretation Act 1999.
The following paragraphs are intended to raise awareness of the kinds of issues that the Interpretation Act 1999 provides for and that therefore do not need to be restated in the new legislation. The paragraphs do not analyse the provisions of the Interpretation Act 1999 in depth, nor explain how the common law supplements those provisions.
The Interpretation Act 1999 contains provisions relating to:
- the date and time of day when Acts and regulations come into force (sections 8 to 10);
- the circumstances in which a power granted by an Act may be exercised before that Act comes into force (section 11);
- 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, the power to make or issue secondary legislation and when a person may exercise a power to correct minor errors in the prior exercise of that power) (sections 12 to 16);
- the effect of repealing legislation on existing rights, powers and situations, including on things done under the repealed legislation (for example, rules concerning the fate of enactments made under the repealed legislation, powers previously exercised under the repealed enactment, and how to treat references to the repealed enactment in other legislation) (sections 17 to 22);
- the fact that legislation will not bind the Crown unless the enactment expressly says so (although the practice in New Zealand is for all legislation to apply to the Crown) (section 27) (see Chapter 11);
Any of these provisions can be overridden, extended, or restricted in a particular case but that should be done deliberately, using clear language, and only if necessary.
[Link to supplementary material: Guidance on commencement clauses]