A popular myth with OPCA adherents is the “stand under” phobia, when replying to an officer’s question: “do you understand?” The OPCA interpretation is that answering “YES” would create joinder in contract with the officer.
The concept also implies that only if one individually “consents” to legislation, it then becomes enforceable, so they emphatically and frantically want to make the point that they don’t “Stand under or consent” to any of the little rules concocted by that evil club the BAR Society, to avoid joinder.
But “Understand” does not mean to ‘”stand under”. Do you stand under me? Not literally, of course. Understanding ‘Understand’ Ain’t Easy. 1 You might feel like you’re ‘under attack’ from the word ‘under’ and for good reason. A police officer may not be acting under statutory authority, and you’d have to understand what provision requires it. How then do you differentiate the ‘under’ you know from this OPCA impostor?
After all, there are numerous ‘unders’ that make perfect sense: when you are underage, you will most likely underachieve in the purchase of alcoholic beverages. You may find yourself under arrest when an undercover officer finds you;
When you reply that you don’t “stand under that law”, you appear to be under the influence of a substance, or possibly should be assessed under the Mental Health Act. It could be a sign you are undereducated; that you underestimated the importance of school. But you cannot say in your defence that you stand under mathematics, or that you stand under the obesity problem in the country. You certainly cannot say you like the way the minister stands under the education system.
You simply understand that ‘understand’ means to comprehend, to have knowledge, to see, to realize, to grasp and to perceive.
This is a matter of substance, not form. Following the constitutional technique which has been approved in the Engineers Case (1920) 28 CLR 129, 2 plain English should be used. It is also important to use connotation rather than denotation (See Engineers at 142-3 and 151; and also see Grain Pool of Western Australia v Commonwealth (2000) 202 CLR 479 at 493 3). I believe it was Galdron J who made the very good point that the Constitution should be read as if it is being read for the very first time, and to apply a modern meaning.
Under common law an arrest requires a belief an offense had been committed, (Note: ‘Belief’ is an ‘assentation of mind’ and different to ‘suspicion’: See George v Rockett Slaveski v State of Victoria  VSC 411 4) …informing the person they are under arrest, and why they are under arrest, physical contact and the person “understanding” why they are under arrest: (see eg George v Rockett (1990) 170 CLR 104 5 * Collins v Wilcock  1 WLR 1172, 6* DPP v Hamilton  VSC 598 7)
Old English“oferstandan”, Middle English “overstonden”, literally “OVER-STAND” seem to have been used only in literal senses. For “TO STAND UNDER” in a physical sense, Old English had “undergestandan”.
Old English understandan “comprehend, grasp the idea of,” probably literally “stand in the midst of,” from under + standan “to stand” (see stand (v.)). If this is the meaning, the under is not the usual word meaning “beneath,” but from Old English under, from PIE *nter- “between, among” (source also of Sanskrit antar “among, between,” Latin inter “between, among,” Greek entera “intestines;” see inter-). Related: Understood; understanding.
That is the suggestion in Barnhart, but other sources regard the “among, between, before, in the presence of” sense of Old English prefix and preposition under as other meanings of the same word. “Among” seems to be the sense in many Old English compounds that resemble understand, such as underniman “to receive,” undersecan “examine, investigate, scrutinize” (literally “underseek”), underðencan “consider, change one’s mind,” underginnan “to begin.” It also seems to be the sense still in expressions such as under such circumstances.
Perhaps the ultimate sense is “be close to;” compare Greek epistamai “I know how, I know,” literally “I stand upon.” Similar formations are found in Old Frisian (understonda), Middle Danish (understande), while other Germanic languages use compounds meaning “stand before” (German verstehen, represented in Old English by forstanden “understand,” also “oppose, withstand”). For this concept, most Indo-European languages use figurative extensions of compounds that literally mean “put together,” or “separate,” or “take, grasp” (see comprehend). Old English oferstandan, Middle English overstonden, literally “over-stand” seem to have been used only in literal senses. For “to stand under” in a physical sense, Old English had undergestandan.”
- 1 https://www.languagetrainers.com.au/blog/2013/08/understanding-understand-aint-easy/
- 2 https://jade.io/j/?a=outline&id=62882
- 3 http://eresources.hcourt.gov.au/showCase/2000/HCA/14
- 4 http://clra.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/George-v-Rockett-1990-HCA-26-1990-170-CLR-104-20-June-1990-Bindin.._.pdf
- 5 http://clra.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/George-v-Rockett-1990-HCA-26-1990-170-CLR-104-20-June-1990-Bindin.._.pdf
- 6 https://swarb.co.uk/collins-v-wilcock-qbd-1984/
- 7 https://jade.io/j/?a=outline&id=257861
- 8 https://www.etymonline.com/word/understand