Episode 90 says one issue with ‘always speaking’ is how it may apply in any particular situation. This case, about whether an electronic-only file is a ‘document’ for FOI purposes13, illustrates this.
Cavanough J (at ) held that a thing is a ‘document’ if it is a record of information ‘regardless of the way in which the thing is stored’. He quoted from a textbook14 and 2 cases15. The latter confirmed there is no meaningful distinction between information stored on paper and that ‘stored in the electronic impulses of a computer’. The connotation of ‘document’ remained constant but the denotation had evolved to cover a new form of storage.
This principle is from Episode 91 of interpretation NOW!
13 Definition in s 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (VIC).
14 (at ), Herzfeld & Prince Interpretation (at [2.30]).