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SA Australian Law - Hanged on a Comma Makes Little Sense?

Discussion in 'Australian Law Students Forum' started by Reag, 11 April 2018.

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  1. Reag

    Reag Member

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    How does a serial comma before 'or elsewhere' change the meaning in Australian Law?A serial comma before or elsewhere just means that 'or elsewhere' stands alone and is not connected to 'giving to them Aid and Comfort in the Realm'. The 'or elsewhere' standing on it's own doesn't make any sense.

    ‘If a Man do levy War against our Lord the King in his Realm, or be adherent to the King’s Enemies in his Realm, giving to them Aid and Comfort in the Realm or elsewhere’

    ‘If a Man do levy War against our Lord the King in his Realm, or be adherent to the King’s Enemies in his Realm, giving to them Aid and Comfort in the Realm, or elsewhere.’
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    1. Means aid and comfort in the realm or elsewhere.
    2. Means levying war in the realm or elsewhere.

    Good example of why commas are important.
     
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  3. Reag

    Reag Member

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    So if a serial comma is applied at the end, then 'or elsewhere' would apply to all three prior statements? and would be similar in meaning to this:

    ‘if a Man do levy War against our Lord the King in his Realm or elsewhere, or be adherent to the King’s Enemies in his Realm or elsewhere, giving to them Aid and Comfort in the Realm or elsewhere

    Is that how a serial comma works, or is it only an assumption that it should apply to all three statements?
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Ahh, the Treason Act UK, 1351

    Read this case: THE KING v. CASEMENT [1917] 1 K.B. 98

    The indictment charged Sir Roger Casement with “high treason by adhering to the King’s enemies elsewhere than in the King’s realm, to wit, in the Empire of Germany, contrary to the Treason Act, 1351.

    He was executed for treason.

    From Wikipedia:

    At Casement's highly publicised trial for treason, the prosecution had trouble arguing its case. Casement's crimes had been carried out in Germany and the Treason Act 1351 seemed to apply only to activities carried out on English (or arguably British) soil. A close reading of the Act allowed for a broader interpretation: the court decided that a comma should be read in the unpunctuated original Norman-French text, crucially altering the sense so that "in the realm or elsewhere" referred to where acts were done and not just to where the "King's enemies" might be.[43][44] Afterwards, Casement himself wrote that he was to be "hanged on a comma", leading to the well-used epigram.[45]


    Shows the English argued the meaning.
     
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