Interpreting the Law – Australia


Scales-JusticeI’ve just witnessed (on video) a recent country wedding conducted by a civil celebrant. What astounded me was that the celebrant:
a. did not state they were legally authorised to conduct the marriage
b. the Monitum was not spoken
c. neither party to the marriage said the compulsory legal vow
This celebrant was authorised more than 20 years ago, according to the AGD register of civil celebrants so they’ve been around long enough to know better, or are there different rules for the “elders” amongst our ranks. I’m very curious to hear others’ opinions.

I suppose I’d be classed as an elder.
You may not have noticed that we had a book of legal interpretations in 1995, Which had been valid since 1973. We had access to GOOD advice – The Public Service defied the precedents of 30 years of interpretation. Hence they made a lot of mistakes and invented lot of stuff which you may think is “correct”-
In the last ten years we have had at least four revisions

Explanatory notes 1,
Explanatory Notes 2,
When Words are not enough. 3.
And now the latest
“Guidelines for celebrants” 4 –

which, the first time I opened it, I saw a serious error (checked by my lawyer friends). (Note that the Department have now nearly come back to square one i.e 1995).
For example, the interpretation for vows for thirty years was “as long as the words conveyed to those present that the couple were taking each other in marriage”.
For example, on the business of names – when you boil it down anyone can be any name they seriously choose to be. God knows how much unnecessary pain the recent erroneous interpretations have caused people.

I wrote this article for the AFCC magazine – some really ignorant people made disparaging remarks about it – but check it out – it is important – and it is correct.

Finally, may I say that I hereby cast a pox on anyone who says I am not exact with the law or that I do not advocate it in my training courses. We are all bound by the same GENUINE rules of interpretation,we are not bound by the changing legal whims of public servants who have never been celebrants.
A lot more could be said –

Dally Messenger III