What happens when a statutory obligation is impossible to comply with? In this corporations law case, the liquidator had to notify all creditors a pooling order was to be sought13. Jagot J (at ) held that, where a statutory obligation cannot be complied with ‘for some reason beyond the control of the person’, compliance is not insisted on14.
As a more general proposition, in all civilised legal systems ‘laws must not command the impossible’15. Bennion (at 1129-1133) deals with the principle under its Latin tag – lex non cogit ad impossibilia. iTip – regard this principle with caution and remember that it will not apply where the incapacity is self-induced.
This principle is from Episode 73 of interpretation NOW!
13 s 579E of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
14 Natkunarajah  FCA 419 (at ), Pearce 9th ed (at [11.28]) cited.
15 St Pancras (1834) 110 ER 1138 (at 1146), Vanit (1997) 190 CLR 378 (at 384).