Industrial awards

D&D Traffic Management v AWU [2022] FCAFC 113

This case (at [47-48]) summarises principles for interpreting industrial awards.  Similar to statutes, the starting point is the natural and ordinary meaning of the award’s words, ‘read as a whole and in context’, with regard to history and subject matter.

Importantly, awards are designed for specific industries, so cannot be read ‘in a vacuum divorced from industry realities’ such as working conditions, customs and practices14.  Moreover, as awards can result from agreements between parties that are drafted less precisely than Acts, they may generally be construed generously to give effect to purpose if there are drafting infelicities15iTip – context is key.

This principle is from Episode 88 of interpretation NOW!


14 Wanneroo [2006] FCA 813 (at [57]), Episode 30.

15 Amcor [2005] HCA 10 (at [96, 145-146]), King [2021] FCAFC 123 (at [42]).