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Construing statutes: grossly unfair, perverse and anomalous – not relevant May 25, 2017

Workers Compensation (Dust Diseases) Authority v Cunha [2017] NSWCA 111
  1. Thirdly, in Miles v SAS Trustee Corporation [2017] NSWCA 86, an appeal like this from the District Court exercising its residual jurisdiction, but determined after the decision of the primary judge, Sackville AJA, with whom Payne JA agreed, said at [55]:

“Having regard to the submissions made by STC in the present case, it is important to appreciate that a construction that gives effect to the words of a statute is not to be rejected simply because one party labels the result as ‘perverse’ or, to use a less pejorative term, ‘anomalous’.”

  1. The same may be said of the labelling of a result as “grossly unfair”. Substantially similar reasoning was applied by this Court in Lembcke v SAS Trustee Corporation (2003) 56 NSWLR 736; [2003] NSWCA 136 in relation to a construction said to produce a “windfall gain”.
  2. It is as well to reiterate what Bathurst CJ said in a not dissimilar context in SAS Trustee Corporation v Woollard (2014) 86 NSWLR 367; [2014] NSWCA 75 at [59]:

“[I]t is not up to courts in construing a statute to consider what is or is not a desirable policy and impute that to the legislature as a matter of construction”.

  1. The resolution of this appeal, which turns upon the construction of s 8(2B), is not assisted by submissions which invoke a notion of “grossly unfair” upon the construction for which the Authority contends.

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