Singular and plural

Tickle v Giggle for Girls Pty Ltd [2023] FCA 553

Tickle alleged discrimination on the basis of gender identity12.  This complaint was later withdrawn and a new one lodged out of time.  Despite the ordinary position that the singular includes the plural in statutes13, Giggle argued that, for policy and finality reasons, the statute envisaged only one complaint.

Bromwich J (at [38-44]) disagreed.  When evaluating whether there was a contrary intention, it was necessary ‘to consider the substance and tenor of the legislation as a whole’14.  The remedial nature of the statute was consistent with more than one complaint being possible.  Ordinary abuse of process provisions deal with any misuse of the provisions.

This principle is from Episode 98 of interpretation NOW!


12 s 46PO(2) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).

13 s 23(a) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth), Episodes 3, 62 & 89.

14 Walsh (1996) 188 CLR 77 (at 90-91), Pfeiffer [2001] HCA 71 (at [59]).