Consistent meaning

ACCC v J Hutchinson Pty Ltd [2022] FCA 98

The starting idea that the same word used in the same statute takes the same meaning has near mythic status14.  In this competition case, Downes J (at [281]) said that, where the same concepts are used in a suite of provisions, ‘a consistent meaning should ordinarily be given’15.  This is only natural.

In practice, the same word may take different meanings.  Two points – (A) this is rare, and (B) cogent evidence anchored in context and purpose will be necessary to make the case – see editorial above.  iTip – where the same word used in close proximity is the purposive focus of the provisions, the same meaning presumption may be stronger.

This principle is from Episode 82 of interpretation NOW!


14 Episode 65, Orr [2020] NSWCCA 220 (at [63-66]), Pearce 9th ed (at [4.6]).

15 Tabcorp [2016] HCA 4 (at [65]), Pacific National [2020] FCAFC 77 (at [206]).