Beneficial legislation

Abblitt v ADC [2016] TASSC 12

Are all statutes interpreted the same way, or does the old rule about reading beneficial provisions liberally still apply?  The judge here (at [29]) said it did – the Act was to be given ‘a fair, large and liberal’ interpretation rather than one which is ‘literal or technical’7

The High Court confirmed this in 20118, but it does not solve all problems.  First, there is the need to find the provisions are beneficial.  Second, the rule cannot support an ‘unreasonable or unnatural’ result.  Third, it may not help where discretions are to be exercised or value judgments made9iTip – the rule does survive but it has its limits.  

This case is from Episode 11 of interpretationNOW!


7  IW v City of Perth (1997) 191 CLR 1 (at 12), quoted.

AB v Western Australia [2011] HCA 42 (at [24]).

9  Western Australia v AH [2010] WASCA 172 (at [105]).