Statutory definitions

Singh bhnf Kanwar v Lynch [2020] NSWCA 152

Singh was injured in a race fall and sued another jockey.  He lost because the harm resulted from obvious risks of a dangerous recreational activity7.  He said that the ‘recreational activity’ definition was influenced by the ordinary meaning of ‘recreational’. 

Rejecting this, Leeming JA (at [98-131]) considered in-depth the High Court position that, for circularity reasons, definitions are not read ‘by reference to the term defined’8.  What he found was variable practice and contrary views elsewhere.  Plus, terms defined in statutes are usually chosen to be meaningful9 and mechanistic approaches are out10.  The High Court view ‘remains controversial’, Leeming JA said11.

This principle is from Episode 64 of interpretation NOW!


7 s 5L of the Civil Liability Act 2002, Goode [2017] NSWCA 311 (at [194-196]).

8 King [2020] HCA 4 (at [18]), Eichmann [2020] FCAFC 155 (at [45]).

9 (at [120]), Streller [2013] NSWCA 348 (at [43]) quoted.

10 (at [128-130]), AVS [2010] NSWCA 81 (at [133]).

11 (at [126]), cf Herzfeld & Prince Interpretation (at [3.50]) coyote example.