Construing undertakings and court orders

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Court orders can be open to a number of interpretations and two different approaches have been taken by the courts on the issue of whether reference to the reasons for judgment is appropriate in construing court orders. On one view, unless a court order is ambiguous, it is not permissible to examine the reasons for judgment in interpreting the court order. On this view the judgment is considered to be extrinsic material. But a second line of authority has emerged that supports the proposition that court orders must always be examined in the context of the reasons for judgment. This approach recognises that judgments provide a primary source for interpreting court orders and are critical to the interpretation process. The purpose of this article is to examine the competing lines of authority in interpreting court orders and to examine the type of extrinsic material that is used in construing court orders. Specific issues that relate to interpretation of consent orders, undertakings and injunctions will also be examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-91
JournalAustralian Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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