Frustration of purpose

Mangoola v Muswellbrook SC [2023] NSWCA 275

Mangoola sought to recover $3m in overpaid council rates.  The Act said action for amounts ‘recoverable on restitutionary grounds’ had to be commenced within 12 months11 – not met.  Mangoola argued that this deadline did not apply to statutory claims.

Leeming JA said context and purpose made it clear the Act was to apply to claims under statute as well as those at common law.  While extrinsic materials showed the latter was ‘a purpose’ of the provision, it did not follow that it was the sole purpose.  Every tax will have a statutory basis, the judge said, and ‘there cannot be an incontestable tax’12.  The 12 month deadline applied and Mangoola failed.

This principle is from Episode 104 of interpretation NOW!


11 s 2(1) of the Recovery of Imposts Act 1963 (NSW).

12 Brown (1958) 100 CLR 32 (40), MacCormick (1984) 158 CLR 622 (639-641).