Benjamin v FCT [2017] AATA 39

The use of headings for interpretational purposes has always been difficult5.  Historically, Part and Division headings formed part of the Act and could not be ignored.  They could constrain general provisions or help resolve ambiguity6, but naturally gave way to clear language in provisions. 

Section headings, however, were only part of some federal Acts7 until 2011, when this became universal8.  Do we now treat all headings in the same way?  In this case, Forgie DP (at [44-48]) applied older principles for Part and Division headings to a section heading, concluding it was only ‘giving a flavour of the provision’9iTip – be careful with headings.

This case is from Episode 23 of interpretationNOW!


Pearce & Geddes (at [4.52, 4.56]) generally.

R v Scarpantoni [2013] SASCFC 120 (at [32]).

s 182-1(1) of the GST law, s 950-100(1) of ITAA97, for example.

s 13(1) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (from 2011), cf Lynwood [2017] NSWSC 424 (at [33]).

s 42B of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975.