Judicial comity

Re Amerind Pty Ltd [2017] VSC 127

Precedent compels consistency between courts in the same system.  Courts in different systems (and co-ordinate courts in the same system) are not strictly bound by decisions of the other.  But they are expected to be consistent unless convinced the other is ‘plainly wrong’6.  This case (at [293]) underlines the public interest7 in ‘judicial comity’8.

Precedent is a ‘must’ rule, while comity is a ‘should’ convention9.  Comity arises when state courts exercise federal jurisdiction (or interpret uniform legislation) and between single judges (including in tax cases10).  Single judges often follow each other.

This case is from Episode 24 of interpretationNOW!


Hicks [2003] FCA 757 (at [75-76]), Undershaft [2009] FCA 41 (at [68-74]).

Batterham [2006] HCA 23 (at [73-74]).

8  Mustac [2007] WASCA 128 (at [37-46]), BHP [2007] FCAFC 157 (at [88-89]).

9  Generally, Pearce & Geddes (at [1.9-1.13]).

10  Rabinov 82 ATC 4517 (at 4523), La Macchia (1992) 110 ALR 201 (at 204).