Dictionaries (again)

Hunter’s Hill Council v Minister [2017] NSWCA 188

Basten JA in this council amalgamation case (at [76-83]) recalls the limits of using dictionaries.  Resort to them is ‘rarely favoured’11, he said, though not for ‘some dismissive or precious attitude’.  It is more because they concern common usage, which may not be reflected in the statutory context.  They may help sometimes, but their function is limited. 

Instead, ‘focus upon the particular statutory context in which the language is used’, he said.  The legislative history here confirmed that ‘contiguous’12 required a single area without elements of division or separation.  Given a river separated the 2 areas in question, they could not be amalgamated. 

This case is from Episode 28 of interpretationNOW!


11  TAL Life [2016] NSWCA 68 (at [80]), cited.

12  s 204(3) of the Local Government Act 1993.