Commanding the impossible

SCC Plenty v Construction [2015] VSC 631

This case on adjudication mechanisms in building industry laws makes the point (at [98]) that ‘laws must not command the impossible’.  Unless flexibility was applied, said the judge, the legislation ‘could not be made to work’. 

The notion of impossibility driving interpretation is another aspect of taking practical implications into account12.  It is an old principle accepted in all civilised legal systems.  However, it cannot be taken as broad licence to excuse compliance with statutory obligations merely because things are difficult in some way or another.  iTip – courts do apply this principle, but only very rarely.

This case is from Episode 11 of interpretationNOW!


12  Uelesev Minister [2015] HCA 15 (at [100]), Episode 1.