This On Demand was recorded on Wednesday 24 February 2021.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia (and RBG bestie) once quipped that “the main business of a lawyer is to take the romance, the mystery, the irony and the ambiguity out of everything [s]he touches”.
A large part of that exacting business is the task of interpretation. It is the bedrock of our legal work. Many disputes turn on the meaning of a written contract, or of a statute, or both. Lawyers constantly fret: “what on earth do these words mean?”. The answer, often knife-edge, can have enormous consequences.
The New Zealand courts have been tightening up their approach to interpretation, re-emphasising the primacy of the text. Judges have admonished parties for excessive reliance on external material that is inadmissible, only remotely relevant, or “singularly unhelpful”. This On Demand will explore what may properly be put before the court.
All lawyers involved in advising on, or litigating (in court or in arbitration) the meaning of contracts or statutes, as well as those who draft these instruments. The On Demand will be of interest to practitioners of both private and public law, to corporate counsel, and to government lawyers, at all levels.
Gillian Coumbe KC