Anomalous outcomes

Peter Greensill Family v FCT [2021] FCAFC 99

This tax case at the intersection of CGT and trust provisions raises how argument by reference to anomalous outcomes may distort the interpretation process.  Arguments of this kind may obscure rather than assist identification of statutory purpose.

The court said (at 70]) that care needs to be taken not to allow anomaly to obscure the real choice made by parliament13.  A similar idea comes through in the warning about using extreme examples for resolving constructional choices14.  The other risk in this context is that of preconceiving (consciously or not) a policy by reference to the suggested anomaly then reading the legislation against that policy15

This principle is from Episode 75 of interpretation NOW!


13 Esso (1998) 83 FCR 511 (at 519), ConnectEast [2009] FCAFC 22 (at [41]).

14 Forge [2006] HCA 44 (at [46]), Shaw [2003] HCA 72 (at [32]).

15 Certain [2012] HCA 56 (at [26, 41]), Deal [2016] HCA 31 (at [37]).