Statutory interpretation is a vital skill required for any legal practitioner. Judges use the analysis skills in handling cases before them judiciously. The quiz is to enhance the learning students with prudent interpretation skills especially for most of the statutes. Regarding the quiz, we are going to use the County Court Act of 1958 as a reference law of studies.
The County Court Act 1958 (Vic) came into operation on 1st April 1959. This was after it assented on 30th September 1958. Before the assenting, the act was published in the government gazette on 18 March 1959 on page 829. The Act number is 6230 of 1958. The latest version incorporating the recent amendment is version number 164 which has been effective as from 1st May 2016. The long title of the act is, An Act to Consolidate the Law Relating to the County Court.' The title locates in the table of the provision as the first entity.
The Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984(Vic) is relevant to the interpretation of the Act. According to S.35 of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984, certain principles and aids must be used during the interpretation of the statute in question. The law given therein is that during interpretation, the spirit of the act or the sole purpose why the Act was enacted should be put into consideration. The purpose can be determined to form the drafters who are the House of the Parliament. This can be deduced from relevant documents that were available during enactment in the parliament. It can also be derived from the reports made by the House of the Parliament and other professional bodies such as parliamentary committees inter alia.
According to S.3 of the county court act 1958, the definition of a judge and an associate judge is provided but in an open definition. The section provides that the definition of both terms depends on the context used. The definition itself is repetitive and ambiguous. A judge is defined as a judge executing functions conferred by the court under S.12B. A judge can also mean the Chief Judge or any person acting as a chief judge or a reserve judge. An associate judge is a person appointed as per the dictates of S.17A. An associate judge can also be a reserve associate judge whose functions are conferred by S.17KC of the statute. It seems like their mandates overlaps but through delegations. This therefore mean that any judge can perform the functions of the court to avoid delays in proceedings.
The County Court has a jurisdiction to convict or try any person that has committed an indictable crime before or after the establishment of the court. Indictable crimes are more serious than summary offences and are created by the statutes. According to S.36A of the Act, the criminal jurisdiction is limited. Major indictable offences such as murder, attempt to murder, treason and other offences like housebreaking inter alia cannot be tried in a County Court.
The Court, according to S.37 of the Act in study, has a civil jurisdiction to have proceedings on any civil matter that is conferred to it by the statute, the ones which are not enlisted to be outside of the court jurisdiction and any civil matter arising from the loss or injury sustained within the domain of the municipality and has been caused in any way by the municipal government. However, the Court cannot revise any civil decision obtained from the Supreme Court and cannot also serve proceedings of civil matters involving prerogative writ.
(a) According to S.8 of the Act, a Chief Judge is appointed by the Governor in Council. The person to be appointed must have been an Australian lawyer for at least five years. He must also be either a judge or a Magistrate from a Court created by a statute, High Court, any other court of Victoria or of the state found within the Northern territory of Australia.
(b) According to section 4A, The Koori Court Division of the county was established to make sure that the execution of the Court's jurisdiction is obliged in an expeditious, fair, efficient and comprehensible manner.
During any interpretation of any clause in the County Court Act 1958 (Vic), the judge might use ether intrinsic or extrinsic sources to aid his interpretation. Some of the extrinsic sources are the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984(Vic) and precedence that have been made by courts concerning the interpretation of the Act. The intrinsic sources can be within the Act itself. The definitions located in section 3 and both the long and short tittle can certain to the judge the spirit of the drafters. Other sources like the explanatory memorandum and endnotes can also aid interpretation.
In accordance to S.17AAA of the County Court Act 1958 (Vic), the Chief Judge has the power to direct other judicial officers to participate in any specified professional training and carrier development. The sole reason of undertaking such educational programs is to put judges on toes with the current emerging issues. Such programs are also beneficial in breeding professionalism within the courts.
By section to S.47A of the County Court Act 1958 (Vic), the county court has jurisdiction to refer civil cases within its jurisdiction to a mediation process. The transfer should be done per the rules stipulated in the Act. Transfer of a case can be with or without the consent of the parties. The whole case or part of it can be moved to mediation.The section also provides an alternative dispute resolution of arbitration can be used instead. In S.47B of the same Act, the evidence adduced by any person either orally or published both in print and electronic sources cannot be admitted during the court proceedings unless it is a written agreement signed by both parties, then such evidence can be used in a court hearing.
(a) In the case of Brodie vs. Singleton Shire Council, in paragraph 31 of Gleeson CJ judgment, the learned judge tried to explain the interconnection between a statutory and common law regulation. The case involving a tort action of negligence was decided in non-feasance rule. The judge explained that the rule, though was of a statutory constriction was also having roots in the common law on negligence. The statute and common law are always used in tandem to provide the basis of holdings in any case.
(b) The County Court Act 1958 (Vic), is acting like a case study for interpretation skills and at the end of the semester it can be used as a reference in the final paper.
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