Meaning of ‘includes’

Nuon [2022] FCAFC 197 & QCoal [2022] QCA 237

These appeal cases show the different meanings ‘includes’ may take in a statutory definition13.  In Nuon (at [22]), it removed doubt that certain things fell within ‘imprisonment’ as ordinarily understood14.  In QCoal (at [57]), it extended the ordinary meaning.  This was confirmed by the fact that inclusions to the definition were themselves defined widely.

While the latter situation of expansion in QCoal is more common, Nuon illustrates that this will not always be the case.  What ‘includes’ means in any definition will depend on purpose and context, part of which involves the function of the definition within the scheme of provisions being considered.

This principle is from Episode 92 of interpretation NOW!


13 Pearce 9th ed (at 265-270), Herzfeld & Prince (at 478-479).

14 Australian Central Credit Union (1985) 157 CLR 201 (at 206-207) cited.