Similar Acts

Byrne v Owners [2016] WASC 153

It is presumed, subject to contrary intent, that similar expressions attract the same meaning in similar statutes11in pari materia.  Tax cases and a recent High Court decision illustrate the idea12.  Pritchard J in this case (at [131]) observed that the presumption only applies between statutes, not where a mere ‘statutory contract’ is involved. 

Even where there are two statutes, courts have declined to provide precise criteria for when the presumption will operate.  This is generally consistent with purposive principles and rejection of rigid rules13iTip – in practice, a very close connection between the Acts is usually needed14

This case is from Episode 18 of interpretationNOW!


11  AQO v Minister [2016] NSWCA 248 (at [76]).

12  ICI Australia (1972) 127 CLR 529 (at 542), Coverdale [2016] HCA 15 (at [43]).

13  cf Daley [2016] NSWCA 111 (at [110]), Episode 13.

14  Pearce & Geddes (at [3.36-3.37]).