Tongue Twisters

Let’s start with one of my favourites:
Section 12(1) of the Domestic Violence Act of 1996 (Effect of appeal from order) says:

“An appeal from a safety order or a barring order shall, if the court that made the order or the court to which the appeal is brought so determines (but not otherwise), stay the operation of the order  on such terms (if any) as may be imposed by the court making the determination.”

One needs to read that long and often. I remember as a kid being taught in grammar class that phrases in parentheses or brackets should be able to be removed without disturbing the sense of the sentence. If you remove the portion between the commas it means the Order is stayed, but if you leave it there it means (I think) that the Order is effective immediately despite the appeal.

What lawyers are taught is that in interpreting legislation, one can ignore the punctuation, and just extract the actual meaning.

It probably means the appeal does not stop the Order taking effect, unless the judge directs otherwise. If it keeps me scratching my head, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. How can we expect your average member of the public to understand it?

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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