Statutory definitions (power)

Azimitabar v Commonwealth [2024] FCAFC 52

This case dismissed an appeal from the decision discussed in Episode 997.  It confirms that the idea  definitions are not read as a source of substantive power is no more than a ‘general principle’8.

Many cases, in fact, have not observed this ‘principle of good drafting’.  One of them states that, ‘if there is no other available source of power it can and must be found in the definition provision itself’9.  The appeal decision in this case stands as a robust confirmation of Murphy J at first instance.  iTip – the ‘general principle’ that statutory definitions are not to be the source of powers is modified in practice where there is ‘a clear contrary legislative intent’.

This principle is from Episode 108 of interpretation NOW!


7 Azimitabar v Commonwealth [2023] FCA 760, Murphy J.

8 [49], Mekpine [2016] HCA 7 [62], Douglas [2020] FCAFC 220 [93].

9 Burns Philp (1993) 29 NSWLR 723 (731), Helme (1948) 49 SR (NSW) 60 (62).