Key research areas

Consultation was undertaken with the Centre’s Advisory Board to identify the Centre’s research areas. The following research areas were identified:

  1. legislation, its interpretation and drafting
  2. teaching legislation, its interpretation and drafting
  3. improving community access to the law
  4. professional capacity-building.

Legislation, its interpretation and drafting

Legislation, its interpretation and drafting are the Centre’s key research areas. The Centre is researching, ‘the coherence of statutory interpretation’, including constitutional perspectives, drafting perspectives, statutory interpretation method, and the primacy of the text.  It is researching legislative drafting, considering how to use technology and plain English techniques to assist drafting and improve accessibility to the law. The Centre will identify and address causes of legislative complexity, and conduct research that will lead to an improved understanding of the law.

Teaching legislation, its interpretation and drafting

Australian law schools have been widely criticised for not adequately teaching legislation, its interpretation and drafting. The result is that law graduates have varying understanding of legislation and the legislative process. The Centre will facilitate research in this area to bridge this gap and to align teaching with community needs. It will actively build partnerships across universities and with the legal profession and the community more generally for this purpose. It will develop standard resources for those teaching in this area.

Improving community access to the law

The law is often difficult for people to understand without lawyers. Even judges quite often complain about the state of contemporary legislation. This means people cannot get access to justice easily or at all. A critical function of the Centre’s research is to improve the community’s knowledge of and access to legislation. The Centre will do this by researching plain English drafting, by researching the causes of legislative complexity, and also by conducting research to identify ways to disseminate knowledge of the law to the community. This research should lead to improvement in community knowledge of and access to the law.

Professional capacity-building

The Centre will conduct research into, and deliver professional capacity-building for government and other key stakeholders in the preparation and the implementation of legislation. A range of professionals deal with legislation every day, however many in the executive sector are not trained in legislation, its interpretation and drafting. This can lead to complex and time-consuming problems. The Centre will conduct research about what type of professional education in legislation organisations require. It will design and deliver executive training based on this research. This will lead to improved professional capacity in key government departments and agencies who prepare instructions on proposed legislation, and who deal with the implementation of legislation.