Act ‘always speaking’

Paciocco v ANZ Banking Group [2015] FCAFC 50

The relatively simple idea of an Act ‘always speaking’ is often over-complicated with obscure Latin maxims and seemingly endless cases.  Words have a meaning either fixed at the time of enactment or which may evolve over time and is ‘always speaking’ in the present6.  This case is an example of the latter. 

The correct question is to always ask what parliament is taken to have intended7 – see Episode 1. This case gives examples (at [391-396]) of how the principle is applied in practice.  iTip – tax legislation is usually drafted to be ‘always speaking’, but check if you are in any doubt.  Next, see if the meaning of the word or expression has changed post-enactment.

This case is from Episode 2 of interpretationNOW!


Pearce & Geddes (at [4.9-4.12]).

Forsyth v FCT [2007] HCA 8 (at [39]).