Anomalous outcomes

N & M Martin Holdings v FCT [2020] FCA 1186

In this case, Steward J was asked to go against an earlier case about when capital gains arise ‘from’ a CGT event9  – he declined.  The taxpayer pointed to various ‘anomalous outcomes’ if the earlier case was followed.  Arguments like this are often framed at the outer limits of speculation in order to make the constructional choice as stark as possible.

Steward J pointed out (at [83]) that care needs to be taken to ensure that anomalies presented to the court do not obscure the constructional choice made by parliament10 – cf ‘chamber of legislative horrors’11.  The immediate statutory context and language was more important than framing extreme examples.

This principle is from Episode 68 of interpretation NOW!


9 s 855-10(1) of ITAA97, Peter Greensill [2020] FCA 559, Episode 61.

10 Esso (1998) 83 FCR 511 (at 518-519), ConnectEast [2009] FCAFC 22 (at [41]).

11 Forge [2006] HCA 44 (at [46]), MZXOT [2008] HCA 28 (at [128]).