Statute ‘as a whole’

Tilley v Children’s Guardian [2017] NSWCA 174

Often it’s the simple things that help us when trying to figure out what a provision means.  This case (at [54]) takes us back to the core proposition that ‘statutes are to be read as a whole’11.  To do otherwise only invites the kind of narrowness which the modern purposive approach seeks to avoid. 

On this basis, an argument which confined the expression ‘proceedings have been commenced’ in child protection legislation to when a trial began had to be rejected.  Reading the provisions together in their context made this clear.  iTip – parliament does not enact provisions as little islands of self-contained meaning, nor are they to be read that way.  

This case is from Episode 26 of interpretationNOW!


11  Unit Trend [2013] HCA 16 (at [47]), cited.