The Federal Court heard a case about this scratchie: Kuzmanovski v New South Wales Lotteries Corporation  FCA 876. Whether the plaintiff had a $100,000 winner or not depended on whether in Australia ‘bathe’ means ‘swim’. Did the picture of the man doing freestyle at C1 show a man who was bathing, as the plaintiff was sure of at the moment he experienced an ‘explosion of elation’? The plaintiff hired senior counsel to argue the case for him. Justice Rares agreed with the plaintiff, and ordered contractual damages of $100,000 plus $28,000 in interest since 2007. Had the plaintiff been limited to damages for disappointment, he would have ordered $20,000. One senses that Justice Rares enjoyed writing the judgment. To add insult to injury, the Kuzmanovskis got their costs on an indemnity basis, based on their pre-proceedings offer to accept $80,000 in settlement of their claims:  FCA 1016.
NSW judges have suggested in the past that the Macquarie Dictionary is the most authoritative. It suggested that the use of ‘bathe’ to mean ‘swim’ was ‘chiefly British’, and the lottery company urged that bathe should not be interpreted in Australia to mean swim. But Justice Rares held that what the word meant was up to him, as the arbiter of fact, and though dictionaries are useful tools, they are only that, and considered all the definitions of reputable dictionaries together. The relevant part of the judgment is as follows: Continue reading “Which dictionary is the authoritative arbiter of the meaning of words in Australia?”