Extrinsic materials

Chapman-Davis v NSW [2015] NSWIC 10

Extrinsic materials, such as second reading speeches and explanatory memoranda, can be helpful but should be used with care.  This case (at [144-148]) notes that extrinsic materials may help you find the purpose or object of a provision3, although this must also be supported by the words of the statute4.  

However, extrinsic materials cannot alter the meaning of words in a provision if this is clear on their face5.   You can only consider extrinsic materials when determining a provision’s meaning if it is ambiguous or obscure or would create an obviously absurd result6iTip – yes, always consider extrinsic materials, but know their limitations.

This case is from Episode 15 of interpretationNOW!


3  K-Generation [2009] HCA 4 (at [53]).

Harrison [2008] NSWCA 67 (at [12-16]).

Alcan [2009] HCA 41 (at [47]); Intoll [2012] FCAFC 179 (at [42-43]); Acts Interpretation Act 1901 s 15AB(1)(a).

Acts Interpretation Act 1901 s 15AB(1)(b).