Public Notaries Act 1997 – Long Title is Used to Interpret the Act

The “long title” of the Public Notaries Act 1997 (NSW) reads as follows:

An Act to provide for the appointment and regulation of the practice of public notaries; to repeal the Public Notaries Act 1985; to amend the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act 1997 and Legal Profession Act 1987 consequentially; and for other purposes.

The “long title” of the Act serves as a preliminary explanation of the purpose and function of the legislative instrument. The Public Notaries Act is the statute under which the appointment and administration of Notaries Public is dealt with by the relevant authorities in the state of New South Wales. Courts recognise the “long title” of an Act to be part of the Act itself, and Parliament can pass an amendment to the “long title” so that the purpose of the Act is accordingly changed. The traditional view of how the “long title” of an Act was to be used in the interpretation of an Act was expressed by Chief Justice Latham in the case of Birch v Allan (1942) 65 CLR 621. In that case, Latham CJ stated that:

It may be proper to look at the title for the purpose of determining the scope of an Act; it may be referred to, not to contradict any clear and unambiguous language, but if there is any uncertainty it may be referred to for the purpose of resolving the uncertainly. (pp 625-626)

A contemporary exposition of the use of long titles in the interpretation of legislative instruments is contained in the joint judgement of Chief Justice Mason and Justices Brennan, Dawson, Gaudron and McHugh in Amatek Ltd v Googoorewan Pty Ltd (1994) 176 CLR 471. The case took into consideration the provisions of section 15AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) and its state counterparts. Morris and Cook explain in the fourth edition of Laying Down the Law (Butterworths, 1999) that:

Since s 15AA requires the courts to prefer a construction of the provision that would promote the underlying purpose or object, the courts must seek to discover that purpose or object, and they should do that initially by looking at that provision in the light of the purpose as disclosed in the rest of the Act, including the long title. (p 198)

The passage of the Public Notaries Act 1997 (NSW) involved the repeal (i.e. replacement) of the prior legislative scheme under the Public Notaries Act 1985 (NSW) and various changes to other legislative instruments which were necessary to give effect to the new scheme.

Notarial services in Sydney (mobile in Mosman, Neutral Bay, Cremorne and surrounds) can be provided to meet a business’ requirements, such as the witnessing of documents, the authentication of written materials or objects, the taking of declarations, as well as the drafting of other notarial acts intended to be utilised by foreign government authorities, non-government organisations (NGO) or other private institutions located outside the Commonwealth. If you are looking for a Sydney Public Notary, we look forward to hearing from you.

The information provided on this domain is based on reprint No. 1 (9.5.’06) of the Public Notaries Act 1997 (NSW) as in force on 17.7.’09. This short article is provided for general knowledge purposes only and is not to be used as legal advice. This short article is copyright to the writer.
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