Little one assist case demonstrates the necessity to absolutely contemplate the context of laws throughout its building

The Full Court of the Family Court of Australia considered an argument that Section 99 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 (Cth) (Assessment Act) gave the Australian Federal District Court not only jurisdiction over matters arising from the Assessment Act , but for all disputes under the Valuation Act that arise from the same factual substrate.

The argument was made by analogy with the analysis by the High Court authorities regarding the use of the word matter in Sections 75, 76 and 77 of the Constitution.

The full court dismissed the argument on several grounds:

1. Your Honors were not satisfied that the context of the High Court authorities corresponded to the specific context of s 99;

2. The Assessment Act and the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (Cth) establish a clear system for reviewing decisions and the process by which decisions can be reached in the Federal District Court of Australia;

3. If the argument were correct, then other questions, which the court does not have to examine, would be available for a dispute before the Federal Court of Justice, as long as it results from the same factual substrate; and

4. The reasoning is not in line with the legislative history of Section 106A of the Assessment Act.

The full court found other problems with the reasoning that were more specific to the matter itself. The case is instructive in terms of the need to fully consider the context of the legislation in its creation, as well as the context of supposedly analog constructions.

Source: Secretary, Commonwealth & Bashir Attorney General (2021) FLC ¶98-079; [2021] FamCAFC 137, July 30, 2021.

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