The following definition of ‘spouse’ was included in recent draft legislation.

The definition may be useful when you need to define the term in a contract. The definition will have to be adapted to the specific requirements and wording of the rest of the document.

‘spouse’ in relation to any person at the relevant time

The definition of ‘business day’ in South African agreements often includes phrases like ‘any day on which banks are open for business in South Africa’. These words are confusing and it is sufficient to refer to a day other than a Saturday, Sunday or official public holiday.

The words have crept in from English law

Most definition clauses do (and should) start with the words “subject to the context” and these words are important when applying a definition.

The supreme court of appeal said that definitions in an enactment (in this case a by-law) should not be slavishly applied.  Where the context requires it, the ordinary meaning of a word