Taikato v Regina: 16 Oct 1996

(High Court of Australia) The court was asked whether an individual carrying a formaldehyde spray possessed it ‘for a lawful purpose’.
Held: She did not do so even though it was a purpose not prohibited by law, namely self defence: ”Lawful purpose’ in [the relevant legislation] should be read as a purpose that is authorised, as opposed to not forbidden, by law because that meaning best gives effect to the object of the section. The meaning of ‘lawful’ depends on its context, as Napier J pointed out in Crafter v Kelly [[1941] SASR 237 at 243]. As a result, a ‘lawful purpose’ may mean a purpose not forbidden by law or not unlawful under the statute that enacts the term . . ; or it can mean a purpose that is supported by a positive rule of law . .
As a general rule, interpreting ‘lawful purpose’ in a legislative provision to mean a purpose that is not forbidden, rather than positively authorised, by law is the interpretation that best gives effect to the legislative purpose of the enactment. This is because statutes are interpreted in accordance with the presumption that Parliament does not take away existing rights unless it does so expressly or by necessary implication . . Nevertheless, the purpose, context or subject matter of a legislative provision may indicate that Parliament has used the term ‘lawful purpose’ to mean a purpose that is positively authorised by law.’

Brennan CJ
(1996) 186 CLR 454, [1996] HCA 28, (1996) 139 ALR 386, (1996) 70 ALJR 960
Cited by:
CitedSzoma v Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions HL 28-Jul-2005
The applicant had claimed asylum on entry and was temporarily admitted. Though his claim for asylum was later refused, those admitted in this way were granted indefinite leave to remain. He had claimed and received benefits at first, but then these . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.231609