This judgment Re Murray (deceased) Crummer v AAI Limited ABN 2020 QSC 155 dealt with the meaning of a householder’s liability policy exclusion for liability for death or injury of anyone who usually lives at the insured address.

The court said that the phrase “anyone who usually lives at the insured address” appeared to be a plain English version of the phrase more familiar to lawyers, “ordinarily resident” and should be interpreted in accordance with that phrase.

The test for ordinarily resident depends to a significant degree on the state of mind of the person whose residence is in question, focusing on whether the person habitually and normally resides in the jurisdiction, and does so for a settled purpose.

The claimant in the particular case was not ordinarily resident in Australia.  He was staying with his father as a visitor, for a limited period and for a limited purpose in mind (to nurse his father who was ill suffering from dementia).  The claimant had plans to depart once he had fulfilled that purpose.  He had no plans to stay permanently or semi-permanently in Australia. He was ordinarily resident with his father simply because he had given up his United Kingdom residence and not yet taken up his proposed new residence in South Africa.  Just as a person might have more than one residence it is possible that a person might have no residence and the claimant fell into that class.  In the circumstances the insurer’s reliance on the exclusion was upheld.

It is strange in the context to rely on a phrase usually used to determine things like tax residency in order to interpret where someone usually lives.  It also defeats the purpose of plain language contracts to convert the language back into language familiar to lawyers in order to determine the meaning.