Various Commonwealth countries, like Malaysia, Singapore and India, use this phrase in sections which include definitions or explanation of a law. What does it mean? E.g., Article 13 of the Indian Constitution has the phrase

in this article unless context requires otherwise: law means any rule, order or custom established by a competent authority

Can this be used to broaden or narrow the scope based on the context?

2 Answers 2


what does the phrase "in this act unless context requires otherwise" mean?

It means that the provision or statutory definition is not to be imposed where its application would make no sense or would lead to an absurd outcome.

Using the example point out, statutory or judicial references to "laws of physics", "law of supply and demand", and so forth are not to be construed as enactments or rulings issued by some authority. Accordingly, such laws are not susceptible to violation, enforcement, or repeal.


This just establishes a presumptive rule of interpretation that can be overcome by context.

A similar phrase is used in Interpretation Acts in Canada.

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