The ATO Tax Counsel Network has released episode 35 of ‘interpretation Now!’ to assist with some interpretation issues relating to tax laws. This episode discusses ambiguity of court orders, a recent case on penal provisions, Henry VIII clauses (provisions delegating legislative power) and statutory interpretation of deeming provisions.

In particular:

  • when a court order is plain and clear, it speaks for itself, and if it is ambiguous, the ordinary rules of construction apply and evidence of surrounding circumstances is then available to resolve the issue
  • the old rule about penal provisions being read strictly is one of last resort
  • the courts have less angst about Henry VIII clauses and
  • deeming provisions are to be read strictly in line with their purpose.