Ejusdem generis

Greater Shepparton CC v Clarke [2017] VSCA 107

Ejusdem generis4 (‘of the same kind’) is an old rule limiting general words, like ‘other’, by reference to some common feature (genus) – for example, ‘railway, road, pipeline or other facility’ is confined to facilities on or through which goods move5

Clarke (at [67-69]) notes some limitations however – (A) the rule doesn’t displace ordinary principles, (B) it conflicts with a trend against reading down general words6, (C) it is not to be applied in an abstract or mechanical way7, and (D) it’s ‘rarely justified’.  There is also the problem of correctly identifying the genus (if one exists)8iTip – always consider this rule, but with an eye to caution.      

This case is from Episode 25 of interpretationNOW!


Apologies for the use of Latin in 2017.

Canwan Coals (1974) 4 ALR 223 (at 228).

Mattinson [1977] 1 NSWLR 368 (at 373), Gas & Fuel [1964] VR 617 (at 620).

Clark [2003] NSWCA 91 (at [127]), Vella [2015] FCAFC 53 (at [63]).

Pearce & Geddes (at [4.28]), Episode 18.