Adding words

Hunter Quarries v Mexon [2017] NSWSC 1587

Adding words to fix minor glitches in legislation  is part of purposive interpretation3, though it seldom succeeds in practice.  The argument was that ‘permanent impairment’  excluded situations where death followed ‘shortly after injury4’.  Schmidt J (at [89-101]) declined to ‘read in’ allegedly missing words of limitation, as preconditions were not met5

Also, the proposed words to be added were inconsistent with legislative intent, and would create uncertainty.  Had parliament wanted the outcome suggested, it ‘would have expressly provided for that result’.  iTip – courts are cautious in applying this technique and you should be too!

This case is from Episode 33 of interpretationNOW!


3 Lumb & Christensen (2014) 88 ALJ 661 (at 665), Pearce & Geddes (at [2.32]).

4 ss 65 and 66 of the Workers Compensation Act 1987.

5 See Taylor [2014] HCA 9 & Episode 5 for applicable conditions.