Drafting style

Meskovski v DPP [2018] VSCA 293

When statutory language is re-enacted in a different form, it is generally taken to indicate a different meaning13.  This is a natural and common-sense presumption of ordinary usage.  Insertion of the word ‘undue’ before ‘hardship’ in the statute, the court said (at [94]), showed parliament’s determination to impose a ‘greater stringency’.   

In some jurisdictions (but not Victoria), however, provisions aim to preserve existing meaning where a ‘clearer style’ is used14.  A provision of this kind would not have changed the outcome in this case.  iTip – always check for ‘clearer style’ provisions where laws are re-enacted in different language15.

This case is from Episode 44 of interpretationNOW!


13 Baini [2012] HCA 59 (at [42-43]), Hunter (1990) 31 SCR 7 (at 10).

14 s 15AC of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, cf s 1–3(2) of ITAA97.

15 Pearce (at [3.83-3.93]), Episodes 4 & 42.