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Hill on tax treaties and interpretation


This article examines the interpretation practice of Justice Graham Hill for statutes and treaties, with a particular emphasis on tax treaties. Reflecting his apparent impatience with broad generalities about the process and the exact source and nature of the law on interpretation, it carries out a deconstruction of the “rules” in the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. It then turns to consider how in tax treaty interpretation he related text, context, policy, history and the fact that treaties are negotiated texts, what extrinsic material he used in interpretation and why, and whether there are substantive principles involved. It concludes with discussion of some Delphic asides in his judgments and the lessons to be learnt, particularly by government, from his approach to interpretation of tax treaties.

Author profile

Prof Richard Vann CTA
Richard is Challis Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and has taught at Harvard and NYU Law Schools and the Universities of Amsterdam, London and Oxford. Richard has worked in the past at the IMF and OECD and held many Government consultancies in Australia and elsewhere. He has been a consultant for specialist tax firm Greenwoods & Herbert Smith Freehills since 1985. Richard specialises in corporate and international taxation on which he has published widely both in Australia and internationally. - Current at 15 June 2022
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