Declaration of inconsistent interpretation

    (1)     This section applies if—

        (a)     in a Supreme Court proceeding a question of law arises that relates to the application of this Charter or a question arises with respect to the interpretation of a statutory provision in accordance with this Charter; or

        (b)     the Supreme Court has had a question referred to it under section 33; or

        (c)     an appeal before the Court of Appeal relates to a question of a kind referred to in paragraph (a).

    (2)     Subject to any relevant override declaration, if in a proceeding the Supreme Court is of the opinion that a statutory provision cannot be interpreted consistently with a human right, the Court may make a declaration to that effect in accordance with this section.

    (3)     If the Supreme Court is considering making a declaration of inconsistent interpretation, it must ensure that notice in the prescribed form of that fact is given to the Attorney-General and the Commission.

    (4)     The Supreme Court must not make a declaration of inconsistent interpretation unless the Court is satisfied that— 
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        (a)     notice in the prescribed form has been given to the Attorney-General and the Commission under subsection (3); and

        (b)     a reasonable opportunity has been given to the Attorney-General and the Commission to intervene in the proceeding or to make submissions in respect of the proposed declaration of inconsistent interpretation.

    (5)     A declaration of inconsistent interpretation does not—

        (a)     affect in any way the validity, operation or enforcement of the statutory provision in respect of which the declaration was made; or

        (b)     create in any person any legal right or give rise to any civil cause of action.

    (6)     The Supreme Court must cause a copy of a declaration of inconsistent interpretation to be given to the Attorney-General—

        (a)     if the period provided for the lodging of an appeal in respect of the proceeding in which the declaration was made has ended without such an appeal having been lodged, within 7 days after the end of that period; or

        (b)     if on appeal the declaration is upheld, within 7 days after any appeal has been finalised.


If the Trial Division of the Supreme Court makes a declaration of inconsistent interpretation (based on a referral of a question from VCAT) and on appeal the Court of Appeal upholds the declaration, a copy of the declaration must be sent to the Attorney-General within 7 days after the Court of Appeal's decision.

    (7)     The Attorney-General must, as soon as reasonably practicable, give a copy of a declaration of inconsistent interpretation received under subsection (6) to the Minister administering the statutory provision in respect of which the declaration was made, unless the relevant Minister is the Attorney-General.