Extrinsic materials

Ian Street Developer v Arrow [2018] VSC 14

The judge in this case (at [53-55]) said that, while extrinsic materials are part of the context to be consulted, they can only be used to assist in determining meaning when the text is ambiguous9. Another court later made similar comments10.

Both cases refer to remarks in Saeed that it is wrong to look at extrinsic materials before exhausting ordinary rules of interpretation.  At that time, some took this as an indication the ‘modern approach’ was being rolled back11.  This has turned out not to be the case.  As Ian Street shows, extrinsic materials are to be looked at up-front for context, but their ability to influence interpretation directly is more limited.

This case is from Episode 34 of interpretationNOW!


9 Saeed [2010] HCA 23 (at [33]), Di Paolo[2015] VSCA 230 (at [36]) cited.

10 CFMEU [2018] FCA 83 (at [52]), citing Comcare [2016] HCA 43 (at [46]).

11 Wentworth [2010] FCA 862 (at [35]), cf Skyy Spirits[2015] FCA 509 (at [47]).