Super documents

Application by Ellasil Pty Ltd [2023] VSC 69

This case (at [88]) explains how superannuation trust deeds are to be interpreted.  Unsurprisingly, they are to be read in the same practical, objective and purposive way as all commercial documents9.

McMillan J said that attention must to be paid to the language used, commercial circumstances, operational context, and the objectives to be secured10.  Words are to be given their ‘ordinary and fair meaning’, approached in a ‘practical and realistic way’.  Overly fine or theoretical approaches are to be avoided.  iTip – super deeds as commercial documents are always to be understood objectively and not by reference to subjective intentions11.

This principle is from Episode 95 of interpretation NOW!


9 Byrnes [2011] HCA 26 (at [102]), cf Episode 34.

10 Eastaugh [2017] VSCA 218 (at [61]), cf Butler [2022] VSCA 102 (at [27]).

11 Woodside [2014] HCA 7 (at [35]), Laundy [2023] HCA 6 (at [27]).