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Role of contra proferentem when interpreting contracts

Parker & Associates - Friday, September 30, 2016

The contra proferentem rule – the rule of interpretation that says the words of written documents are interpreted more forcibly against the party putting forward the document – is long-standing in contract law and insurance law. But a string of appellate decisions have re-emphasised that particular importance must be given to the language chosen by the parties to express their intentions, and the mere fact that the natural meaning of a contract has worked out badly or even disastrously for one of the parties is not a reason for departing from the natural language. So when exactly does contra proferentem apply? Two recent decisions of the English Court of Appeal helpfully explain the basis for and role of this rule.

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