Trust deeds

Mercanti v Mercanti [2016] WASCA 206

This case, about the scope to vary a trust deed, restates (at [72-73]) the important principle that trust deeds are interpreted in the same way as contracts12.  It is the objective meaning of the words we are looking for, not what the parties may have subjectively intended, thought or meant to say13

It follows that the differences between contractual and statutory interpretation apply equally to trust deeds.  This means that the wider context of surrounding circumstances can only be taken into account for interpretation purposes where the trust deed is ambiguous14iTip – always look objectively at the words used, not to subjective intent.

This case is from Episode 34 of interpretationNOW!


12 Royal Botanic[2002] HCA 5 (at [9-10]) cited, Blenkinsop [2017] WASCA 87.

13 Byrnes [2011] HCA 26 (at [53, 102-107]), Segelov[2015] NSWCA 156 (at [83]).

14 See Episode 32.