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Report No. 60

8.2A. The expression "from"-various applications analysed.-

It should be noted that the preposition 'from" used in connection with an event may have various meanings. These are three possible points of time on and from which the change in law (indicated by the substantive words which are preceded by this preposition) could take effect1 in such cases. The first is that moment of time when the event takes place. The second is the commencement of the day on which the event takes place. The third is the end of that day, (or the beginning of the next day which describes precisely the same point of time).

Barwick C.J. has dealt with the matter elaborately, in the Australian case of Associate Beauty Aids Pvt. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Taxation, (1965-66) 39 ALJR 20 (21). and stated the position in these words:

"There is no general rule as to the consequence of the use of the preposition 'from', whether it be in the computation of the period of time, or in any other connection. In general, in computing a period of time from a date, the period will commence at the end of the day of that date, but there is no universally operating rule to that effect, see, for example, the illustration given in the note at page 1068 of the report or R. v. Stevens and Agnew, (1804) 102 ER 1063 (1068)., and Wilkinson v. Gaston, (1846) 9 QB 137: 115 ER 1227.

When, as here, a change is to take place from a stated time, the general "rule" as to the computation of a period of time is not of direct significance, though it is illustrative of the separating effect of the preposition "from". In my opinion, it does not usually have an inclusive but rather an exclusive or separatist quality. But unquestionably it may have either. Thus, the preposition derives its relevant quality from the context in which it is found, which includes the purpose which the document in which it is found is evidently designed to effect."

1. C.f analysis in Associated Beauty Aids Pvt. Ltd. v. Commissioner of Taxation, (1955-56) 39 ALJR 20 (21) (Barwick C.J.).

General Clauses Act, 1897 Back

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