Statutory purpose

Sunsie Pty Ltd v KDD [2023] WASC 18

S pre-paid $380K to an agent in relation to purchase of a unit; the agent gave it to the developer before strata plan registration; the project failed; the agent claimed the money was a loan, not part of the price. 

Archer J held the money was recoverable under strata title provisions preventing ‘defalcation’ and ‘contracting out’7.  Text, context and (especially) purpose confirmed this.  The text reflected a beneficial policy, which should not be ‘whittled away’8.  Prior assumptions about the desired reach of the provisions are out9.  This case illustrates how the objective discernment of statutory purpose is integral to the interpretation of legislation10.

This principle is from Episode 94 of interpretation NOW!


7 Former ss 70 & 70A of the Strata Titles Act 1985 (WA).

8 Mirvac [2011] WASC 162 (at [34]), Harman [2012] WASCA 189 (at [66-68]).

9 Australian [2020] WASCA 157 (at [155]), Gribbles [2005] HCA 9 (at [21]).

10 Thiess [2014] HCA 12 (at [23]), SZTAL [2017] HCA 34 (at [39]).