Ejusdem generis

Reid v City of Gosnells [2023] WASC 48

The council and a resident disputed the meaning of ‘or other purposes’ in a planning scheme covering a new council facility9.  The facility was to be used for activities including waste management.  The resident said this was unlawful under the ejusdem generis rule applied to read down general words within a list10

Archer J (at [41-45]) disagreed, saying this ‘artificial rule’ cannot be the starting point of the exercise. 
Whether general words are to be read down is determined by the context, purpose and scope of the statute.  It is not to be approached in an abstract or mechanical way.  iTip – only apply this old rule when it is supported by the wider context and purpose.

This principle is from Episode 97 of interpretation NOW!


9 The definition referred to ‘administrative, recreational or other purposes’.

10 ‘of the same kind’, Episodes 25, 56 & 89, Kelly [2022] FCAFC 130 (at [83]).