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  • Legislation giving effect to international agreements is interpreted according to orthodox principles of statutory construction.
  • International agreements are considered to determine the meaning of provisions and are relevant as legislative context.
  • Although international agreements make the task of legislative analysis more complex, ultimately the words of the legislation will govern.

What is the modern approach to statutory interpretation for legislation seeking to give effect to international agreements? That question arose in the context of allegations about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport which were considered in Essendon Football Club v Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority [2014] FCA 1019.

That case also raised administrative law questions as well as issues around the privilege against self-incrimination and the principle of legality (Lee v New South Wales Crime Commission [2013] HCA 39, [313] – [314] per Gageler and Keane JJ). Of present interest is that the case illustrates that, for legislation which gives effect to treaties and other international instruments, Australian common law principles of statutory construction apply but the task of statutory construction becomes more complex.

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