Singular and plural

R v Wiggins (No 7) [2022] NSWSC 1249

W was charged with murder and another offence.  He had priors for violence plus a long-term association with bikie gangs.  In dispute was whether s 110(3) of the Evidence Act 1995, which allows character evidence to be led ‘in a particular respect’ without putting general character into issue, prevented him leading particular evidence in multiple respects. 

Adams J said (at [79]) the presumption that the singular includes the plural may be rebutted by contrary intention6.  The provision here, held the judge, was not subject to the presumption as its purpose was to limit the giving of evidence to one discrete aspect of character relevant to each offence7.

This principle is from Episode 89 of interpretation NOW!


6 s 8(b) of the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW), cf Episode 62.

7 Seymour [2006] NSWCCA 206 (at [52]), Gabriel (1997) 76 FCR 279 (at 298).