Approved forms

DWD Project v NTEPA [2023] NTCA 3

DWD dumped polluted fill on Crown land.  It said (A) that pollution notices were invalid as they omitted the words ‘on reasonable grounds’ after ‘I believe’11, and (B) that the notices therefore could not sustain convictions for non-compliance – both rejected.

Substantial rather than strict compliance with forms is permitted at common law and under statute12.  Invalidity depends on circumstances, degree of deviation, and whether the recipient would be misled.  Deviation from the form here was ‘purely procedural’, did not alter the substance of the notice, and was not deliberate13iTip – this case sets out all the learning needed on approved forms.

This principle is from Episode 97 of interpretation NOW!


11 The approved form had said – ‘I believe on reasonable grounds …’

12 Episodes 17 & 55, s 68 of the Interpretation Act 1978 (NT) in this case.

13 cf Haynes [1916] NZLR 407, Swann [1999] WASCA 106 (at [16-17]).