Linguistic analysis

Carr v Carr [2022] NSWSC 166

This case involved an application to exhume a body for reburial at a different location – refused.  Leeming JA dealt with two related points of interpretation.

The first (at [82]) is that, while changes to words normally imply changes to meaning, ‘syntactical analysis has its limits’ where the change is minor7.  The second (at [94]) is that, when a statutory definition is read into the provision itself in the normal way8, there may well be some ‘logical or grammatical infelicities’ in what results9.  But this should not derail interpretation.  iTip – these points remind us that, while legislation is never perfect, intense linguistic analysis is rarely the way forward10.

This principle is from Episode 83 of interpretation NOW!


7 Tolley [1979] 1 WLR 592 (at 603) cited, cf Agfa Gevaert [1996] HCA 36.

8 Kelly [2004] HCA 12 (at [103]), Telstra [2017] FCAFC 4 (at [58]).

9 Kennedy [2007] NSWCA 328 (at [44]), Tovir [2014] NSWCA 379 (at [13]).

10 cf Agalianos (1955) 92 CLR 390 (at 397), Unit Trend [2013] HCA 16 (at [47]).