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EMBARGOED TO 6PMTHURSDAY 31 JULYVICTORIA LAW FOUNDATION ORATIONMELBOURNE, 31 JULY 2008THE MEANING OF LEGISLATION: CONTEXT, PURPOSE AND RESPECT FOR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTSMURRAY GLEESON∗In deciding civil rights and obligations, or criminal liability, the characteristic function of a judge is to identify the issues for trial, find the facts relevant to those issues, and apply the law to the facts as found. One of the changes making the work of modern judges different from that of their predecessors is that most of the law to be applied is now to be found in Acts of Parliament rather than judge-made principles of common law (in which I include equity). A federal judge devotes almost the whole of his or her judicial time to the application of an Act of the federal Parliament, whether it be about corporations law, or bankruptcy, or family law, or migration. A commercial case before the Supreme ____________________ ∗Chief Justice of Australia.
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