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CASUAL LEGAL: What does that mean? A Review of the Interpretation Act

September 29, 2021

What does that mean? A Review of the Interpretation Act

By Jenna Chamberlain

Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP

AMSC Casual Legal Service Provider

 

The purpose of the Interpretation Act is to assist people in reading, understanding, and interpreting all Alberta statutes. Any person acting under Alberta legislation should be familiar with its provisions.

Here is a review of a few of the frequently considered provisions from the Interpretation Act:

  1. Commencement of an enactment:
    1. The date of commencement of an enactment is either: the date specified in the Act; the date of proclamation, if stated to be in force on proclamation; or, if not specified, the date of assent.
    2. An enactment has effect immediately at the beginning of the day of commencement.
    3. If an enactment that is not yet in force confers a power, that power may be exercised before the enactment comes into force, but has no effect until in force.
  2. Preambles, reference aids, definitions:
    1. The preamble of an enactment is a part of the enactment intended to assist in explaining the enactment.
    2. Tables of contents, marginal notes and section headers, and statutory citations are not part of the enactment.
    3. Definitions are applicable to the whole enactment and the regulations, unless stated otherwise or if a contrary intention appears in the enactment.
  3. Computation of time:
    1. If an enactment contains a reference to a number of days expressed as clear days or to “at least” or “not less than” a number of days between two events, in calculating the number of days, the day on which the event happens shall be excluded.
      1. Otherwise, in calculating the number of days, the day on which the first event happens shall be excluded and the day on which the second event happens shall be included.
    2. If time is expressed to begin or end at, on or with a specified day, the time includes that day.
    3. If time is expressed to begin after or from a specified day, the time does not include that day.
    4. If anything is to be done within a time after, from, of or before a specified day, the time does not include that day.

This is only a small sample of the sections in the Interpretation Act. If you are reading legislation and are uncertain about the meaning of a provision or a term, it may be helpful to consult the Interpretation Act (or seek legal advice).


To access AMSC’s Casual Legal Helpline, AUMA members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or email casuallegal@amsc.ca and reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please contact riskcontrol@auma.ca, or call 310-AUMA (2862) to speak to AUMA’s Risk Management staff. Any Regular or Associate member of the AUMA can access the Casual Legal Service.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.