Legislative purpose

LCM Funding v Stanwell [2022] FCAFC 103

Anderson J (at [79]) provides a statement of principle at the very heart of our ‘modern approach’ – ‘Consideration of purpose in statutory interpretation is not optional: s 15AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901’12.  It was a ‘clear error’ of an earlier court to forego a purposive approach to a definition in favour of an overly technical approach13.

Section 15AA is ‘imperative’, added the judge (at [101]).  That provision as an ‘unqualified statutory instruction’14 directs constructional choice and generally steers us away from the perils of literalism.  The present case shows how the full force of s 15AA, enacted in 1981, continues to play out in the courts15.

This principle is from Episode 87 of interpretation NOW!


12 cf Thiess [2014] HCA 12 (at [22-23]), Episode 66 ‘Circle of Meaning’.

13 ‘managed investment scheme’ under s 9 of the Corporations Act 2001.

14 SZTAL [2017] HCA 34 (at [38-39]), Ellis [2019] FCAFC 1 (at [116]).

15 cf Barker Harry Houdini paper [2012] FedJSchol 34 (at [16]).