Differing views

FCT v Shell Energy Holdings [2022] FCAFC 2

To depreciate the cost of an additional interest in statutory titles, Shell had to show the activities undertaken were for ‘exploration’11.  That term was informed by the way it was used in petroleum laws12.  In this context, ‘exploration’ took no narrow meaning and a deduction was available.

Allsop CJ said (at [3]) that, just because judges had taken different views on words (like ‘exploration’), did not necessarily mean that ‘different judicial methods’ had been applied.  Differences in this regard, taking account of context and purpose, may ‘strike … the minds and judgments of different people differently’.  All words have some elasticity. 

This principle is from Episode 83 of interpretation NOW!


11 s 40-80(1) of ITAA97.

12 Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1982 (WA) & its federal counterpart.