Objects clauses

GHJ v Dept of Justice (No 2) [2019] VSC 411

Where a statute contains what was called a ‘defined decision making structure’, this should be followed even if the primary value expressed in a general objects clause may favour a different outcome. 

In this child-worker vetting case, the power to give a negative notice was limited to 3 defined situations1.  Ginnane J said (at [39]) this categorical structure must be followed, even where it was against the primary object of protecting children from harm. Giving a negative notice outside the 3 situations was beyond power.  iTip – although an objects clause is available as an aid to construction, it cannot be used to subvert clear statutory language or structure.

This case is from Episode 50 of interpretationNOW!


1 Working with Children Act 2005 (VIC).