Interpretation act - statute interpretations

daniel bishop made this Official Information request to Ministry of Justice

The request was partially successful.

From: daniel bishop

Dear Ministry of Justice,

I would like to inquire into the process by which to interpret statute definitions, particularly the term "person". This request is following rejected OIA requests,

I hope you can answer the following questions, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

1) What is the intended (or official) hierarchy for interpreting definitions in New Zealand legislation?
e.g The relevant act, 1999 interpretations act, (a law dictionary?, blacks? bouviers?)

2) Are there official or department guidelines to the drafting or interpretation of legislation? If so could they please be included in your response

3) Under the 1991 Interpretations act, the term "person" is defined as:
"person includes a corporation sole, a body corporate and an unincorporated body"

does this definition include a "natural person" under this act? if it does under what interpretation does it, i.e. which canons.

I understand this is a question on interpretation and may not fit under the OIA act, however the stated purpose of the interpretation act (section 4 (a)(i)) is to "enable (New Zealand people) their more effective participation in the making and administration of laws and policies" and that cannot happen without clear and transparent interpretation of said laws and policies.

4) If the OIA is not the correct or only channel for this question, where could a person get an executive office or other government stance on interpretation?
It is not a trivial matter as it is key to the accessibility of legislation to the New Zealand people and as seen by the refused requests above is a

The 1991 interpretation act definition of person using the canons:
Ejusdem generis ("of the same kinds, class, or nature")
Expressio unius est exclusio alterius ("the express mention of one thing excludes all others")
as uses "includes" in the definition of "person", using these canons it would follow the interpretation does not include "natural person" only the stated legal entities.

Hopefully these questions don't prove too difficult to answer! I look forward to your response. Once again thank you in advance, your help is greatly appreciated.

Yours faithfully,
Daniel Bishop

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From: correspondence, official
Ministry of Justice


due to the holiday period, this inbox will be unattended until 4 January
2017. We will respond to your message as soon as we can.

Kind regards,

Official Correspondence Team

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From: Paltridge, Antony
Ministry of Justice

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Attachment Bishop Response letter 31 Jan 17.pdf
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Hi Daniel


Please find attached a response to your Official Information Act request
about the interpretation of legislation.







[1]Description: Description: Description: Antony Paltridge
Team Leader (Media and
External Relations) |
Communication Services
DDI: +64 4 918 8980





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