Extraterritorial Application of Australian Statutes

Australian statutes are restricted generally in their operation to activities that take place within the relevant jurisdiction.

1 In effect, this means that statutes are presumed to have no extraterritorial application. Unless, either by express words or necessary implication a statute applies beyond the boundaries of the relevant jurisdiction, it must be construed as limited in its operation to the relevant jurisdiction and not applicable to any person, thing or circumstance not within the relevant jurisdiction.

2 For example, in Kay’s Leasing Corporation Pty Ltd v Fletcher, it was held that the provisions of the Hire Purchase Act (NSW) only apply to contracts entered into in New South Wales.

However, the presumption against extraterritorial application may be rebutted if:

by express words, the statute applies extraterritorially; or

the statute implies a contrary intention, which may be achieved by demonstrating that, if the statute were only to apply within the territorial limits of the jurisdiction,

its object would be defeated.





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