Changes in style

Pfizer Ireland v Samsung [2017] FCAFC 193

Change the words and you change the meaning – that’s standard.  Some jurisdictions1, however, have provisions about ‘changes to style’2.  s 15AC says that where the later Act ‘appears to have expressed the same idea in a different form of words for the purpose of using a clearer style the ideas shall not be taken to be different merely because different forms of words were used’3.  This usually works OK4

Pfizer Ireland (at [107]), however, is an example where ‘words of plain meaning’ could not be ignored5iTips … (1) s 15AC has its own drafting problems, (2) the ‘same idea’ test begs the question6, (3) don’t assume s 15AC cures all ills.

This case is from Episode 42 of interpretationNOW!


1 Commonwealth, ACT, NT, Queensland, cf s 1-3(2) of ITAA97.

2 Pearce Interpretation Acts in Australia (at [3.83-3.93]).

3 s 15AC of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

4 Kumar [2017] HCA 11 (at [20]), Wilkie [2017] HCA 40 (at [107]) for example.

5 Voxson [2017] FCA 267 (at [12]), Clipsal [2017] FCA 436 (at [29]).

6 cf Sherlinc [2004] AATA 113 (at [31]), Pearce (at [3.90]).