Contractual labels

BSA v Ventia Australia [2022] NSWCA 82

Ventia subcontracted provision of social housing services to BSA under an arrangement which said  each work order was a separate contract.  BSA made a claim of 5 work orders which Ventia rejected as violating the ‘one contract rule’ in the legislation13.

The court said it was ‘strongly arguable’ there was no such rule.  In any case (at [76-80]), the parties could not determine by contractual label their relationship for the purposes of the legislation14.  Indeed, an attempt to do this ‘may cause the court to scrutinise the contract with greater care’15 (as happened here).  iTip – contractual labels adopted by parties cannot be ignored but must be subjected to proper scrutiny.

This principle is from Episode 86 of interpretation NOW!


13 Building and Construction Industry Security of Payments Act 1999 (NSW).

14 Radaich (1959) 101 CLR 209 (at 222), Fearnley [2006] FCAFC 3 (at [27]).

15 Hollis [2001] HCA 44 (at [58]), Lewison & Hughes (at [9.07]).