Enterprise agreements

ANMF v Barwon Health [2024] FedCFamC2G 376

This case states the interpretation principles which apply to enterprise agreements8.  (1) The starting point is ordinary meaning read in context, including the industrial context and history.  (2) A generous construction is preferred to a literal one.  (3) Words are not to be construed in a vacuum ‘divorced from industrial realities’, but read in light of the customs and working conditions of the particular industry9

The judge (at [24]) said ‘little attention is given to the niceties of drafting’ in enterprise agreements.  A different wording ‘often reflects no more than a failure to appreciate the desirability of consistency in terminology when the same meaning is intended’.

This principle is from Episode 109 of interpretation NOW!


8 [22], James Cook [2020] FCAFC 123 [65], Murthi [2024] FCA 663 [51].

9 Wanneroo (1989) 30 IR 362 (378-379), Skene [2018] FCAFC 131 [197].