Generalised policy

BH Apartments v Sutherland [2015] VSC 381

The High Court repeatedly warns us against simplistic characterisation of policy at levels too general to be useful.  Most legislation invariably reflects political compromise, the correct question being how far the legislation goes in pursuit of its general purpose6.  Gleeson CJ illustrated this via reading all provisions of the tax laws by reference to a general purpose of raising revenue7.  ‘Legislation rarely pursues a single purpose at all costs’, he said

BH Apartments (at [24]) summarises the position – Woodside is a recent example8iTip – always have regard to the policy, but don’t think that high level statements can always resolve what a provision means  – interpretation is more nuanced than that!

This case is from Episode 6 of interpretationNOW!


Mammoet [2013] HCA 36 (at [40-41]), for example.

7  Carr v WA [2007] HCA 47 (at [6]).

8  Woodside Energy [2009] FCAFC 12 (at [51]).