Prescribed forms of documents are common in tax laws. Under AIA s 25C, strict compliance with these forms isn’t necessary and substantial compliance is sufficient. This is determined by considering the purpose of the form and its contents as a whole, not by analysing its individual parts separately4. Failure to use the correct form isn’t necessarily fatal5.
However, as always, s 25C is subject to contrary intention compelling strict compliance6. For example, a form may have specific requirements that can only be satisfied strictly7. A provision that says a document is valid ‘if and only if’ it is in the approved form may also demand strict compliance (though the word ‘must’ isn’t as decisive)8.
This case is from Episode 17 of interpretationNOW!
5 MZAIC v Minister  FCAFC 25 (at [48-50]).
6 Lambert  AATA 442 (at );
7 Adams v Lambert  HCA 10 (at ).