Statutory interpretation and the Interpretation Act 1999
This is a single section from Chapter 13. Read the full chapter here.
Have the specific definitions and meanings of expressions in Part 5 of the Interpretation Act 1999 been considered?
Legislation should apply the definitions in Part 5 of the Interpretation Act 1999. New legislation should not restate those definitions.
Part 5 of the Interpretation Act 1999 defines what certain words and phrases mean. It is not necessary to restate these rules in new legislation, although it may be helpful to readers to include a flagging provision identifying that the following words and phrases will have the meaning given to them by the Interpretation Act 1999:
- Act, enactment, Order in Council, Proclamation, regulations
- Commonwealth country, part of the Commonwealth
- de facto partner, de facto relationship
- Governor-General in Council
- Minister and consular officer
- month and working day (but not “week”)
- public notice, public notification
- rules of court
- words that use the prefix “step” (such as step-parent)
- definitions of “Act”, “Governor”, “land”, and “person” in enactments passed before the Interpretation Act
- New Zealand, North Island, South Island
- territorial limits of New Zealand, limits of New Zealand
Again, particular Acts can define these words and phrases differently but only if necessary. See, for example, the definition of “public notice” in section 5 of the Local Government Act 2002 and the many different statutory definitions of “working day”, including several that exclude the period from Christmas to mid-January.
Part 5 also includes rules for the interpretation of:
- words that denote the masculine gender used in enactments before enactment of the Interpretation Act 1999;
- the use of parts of speech and grammatical forms of words;
- the use of plural and singular words; and
- the calculation of time and distance.