Interpretation Acts

Doyle’s Farm Pty Ltd v MDBA [2021] NSWSC 369

Was the Murray Darling Basin Authority a ‘public or other authority’ for civil liability purposes2?  A note directed the reader to the Interpretation Act 1987.  That Act applies to all NSW statutes except to the extent of any contrary intention.  While the Act is only a starting point and ‘readily rebutted’3, Adamson J (at [32]) said it was ‘undoubtedly relevant to the task’.

In this case, various definitions supported a finding that the MDBA was not a ‘public or other authority’ here.  Another recent case says Interpretation Acts ‘do not compete for attention’ with other statutes – ‘they work together’4.  For more about this, see Pearce Interpretation Acts in Australia (at [1.1-1.5])5.

This principle is from Episode 73 of interpretation NOW!


2 s 41 of the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW).

3 DRJ (No 2) [2020] NSWCA 242 (at [33]), Botany (1992) 175 CLR 453 (at 466).

4 Douglas [2021] VSCA 128 (at [24]) quoting AIRC [2002] HCA 42 (at [7-8]).

5 cf Waterfront [2019] VSCA 156 (at [36]), Episodes 17 & 51.