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Legal research guide: Torts: Extrinsic materials

Locate resources, including case law, legislation, journal articles and commentary relevant to the study of the law of tort.

Extrinsic materials - please explain?

The Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary (Lexis Advance) can help.

Extrinsic Material


Material that does not form part of an Act but which may assist in the interpretation of that Act. Such material includes explanatory memoranda, reports of law reform commissions and parliamentary committees and second reading speeches. While at common law it was not permissible to have recourse to such materials, for the purposes of statutory interpretation (Commissioner for Prices and Consumer Affairs (SA) v Charles Moore (Aust) Ltd (1977) 139 CLR 449 ; 14 ALR 485 ), consideration may now be given to such materials to confirm the ordinary meaning of a word or phrase or where there is ambiguity: for example (CTH) Acts Interpretation Act 1901 s 15AB; (NSW) Interpretation Act 1987 s 34(1).

Also known as 'extrinsic aids'.

See also Act of Parliament; Golden rule; Literal rule; Statutory construction; Travaux préparatoires

Explanatory Memoranda

An explanatory memorandum is an executive document issued at the same time as a bill. It's purpose is to explain the aims and operation of the statute. In statutory interpretation, if the meaning of a provision in an Act is ambiguous or obscure, reference may be made to explanatory memoranda in order to ascertain the meaning of the provision.

Law Reform Commission Reports

A Law Reform Commission is an organisation with a focus on the systematic development, review and reform of the law in a particular jurisdiction. Each Australian state and territory and the Commonwealth have associated law reform agencies. As a result of Commission inquiries and projects, publications are produced including background papers, issues papers, consultation papers and final reports.

Parliamentary Committee Reports

When a bill is debated in parliament, it is sometimes necessary to refer the bill to a committee, which specialises in the subject area of the bill, for an advisory report.

Second Reading Speeches

A speech given by the relevant Minister in parliament outlining the policy underlying a proposed law (a Bill) during the second reading. Second reading speeches are included in the published parliamentary debates known as Hansard. They are particularly useful in determining the historical intent of new and amending legislation. As an aid to statutory interpretation, second reading speeches may be used to discern the underlying purpose or object of a statute.

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