How do you interpret everyday words in a statute when they also have a specialised trade or technical meaning? Normally words take their ordinary meaning – particularly since parliament can define a word if it is meant to have a special meaning1. However, context, phrasing or subject matter may show that another meaning is intended2.
In this case, a provision described modification of a drug ‘by the addition of’ a chemical. The Court (at [9-21]) read ‘addition’ normally and rejected a narrower scientific meaning (‘addition reaction’). Although the section used scientific terms, that didn’t mean every other word had a technical meaning.
This case is from Episode 16 of interpretationNOW!
2 Marine Power Australia  FCA 210 (at ).