Ramsay v Minister [2023] NSWLEC 66

Farmers were granted access licences for lesser amounts of water than they applied for.  They tried to appeal on the basis that ‘a decision refusing to grant an access licence’ had been made5.  They raised the principle that, where two meanings are open, it is proper to adopt the one which avoids injustice6.

Pain J rejected this and held the appeal incompetent.  Only one meaning of the provision was open, and that meaning was supported by an identified legislative purpose not to confer merit review rights in all circumstances.  iTip – this is a reminder that cases on interpretation decided before s 15AA was enacted need to be read subject to our ‘modern approach’7.

This principle is from Episode 101 of interpretation NOW!


5 s 368(1)(a) of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW).

6 J Murray-More (1975) 132 CLR 336 (350), Pearce 9th Edition [2.59].

7 cf Victoria v R [2014] VSCA 311 [61].  Section 15AA was enacted in 1981.