Specific Maxims/Principles of K Interpretation:A)Interpret contract as a whole: view pieces as one writing – Rest. 202B)Interpret K as a whole; general purpose of the K prevails over specific clauses taken out of context of the whole K (see Trident for ex) – Rest. 202C)If the principal purpose of the parties is ascertainable it is given great weightD)Ut magis valeat quam pereat: interpretation making the contract valid and enforceable is favored over invalidityE)Construe K’s to be internally consistent (Trident)F)A meaning that serves the public interest is generally preferred (Restatement 207)G)Give each term a lawful, reasonable meaning – Rest. 203H)Plain Meaning Rule: related to (G) above, if the K term has an objective, plain meaning, then it should generally prevail; plain or ordinary meaning prevails, unless it is obvious there is a different meaning (although this has eroded recently and by many other “principles”)I)Rock, Paper, Scissors Rule (see above) – Rest. 203J)Specific, exact terms given greater weight then general terms– Rest. 203K)Specific provision is exception to a general one – Rest. 202
Contracts II – Black Letter Law – Daicoff p. 18L)Separately negotiated/added terms are given greater weight than standardized terms – Rest. 203M) Handwritten terms are given preference over typed or preprinted terms; typed-in terms are given preference over preprinted termsN)Courts look to custom and usage to determine meaning (Restatement 202(5) & UCC 2-202 (even if K is integrated))O)Ambiguities are generally construed against the drafter of the K(Restatement 206)P)Omnia praesumuntur: terms are construed against the drafterQ)Noscitur a sociis: meaning of a word in a series is affected by others in the same series (e.g., “sheep, cattle, hogs, dogs…”)R)Ejusdem generic: general term joined by a specific one will be deemed to include only things that are like the specific one (e.g., “animals, such as sheep, cattle, hogs, etc.”)S)Expressio unius exlusion alterius: if one or more specific term is included, similar in kind (if not listed) are excluded (e.g., “sheep, cattle, and hogs”)T)Many of these are formal maxims: “rules” or ways in which language is interpreted; moderns courts use maxims for guidance and support.Adhesion Contract Rule:K of adhesion is when printed forms given to an individual by a representative of the other party; terms are non-negotiable, take it or leave it basis for acceptance, parties don’t usually read it and no one expects anyone to read it. Ct may strike down as unconscionable any term that the parties would not have expected to find in the K, particularly so if the drafter of the K has a monopoly on the commodity or service being sold under the K.Cases:Pacific Gas: )1 Departs from the traditional, plain meaning rule that would exclude extrinsic evidence if the K term is unambiguous, and admits extrinsic evidence even when express K term isplain and unambiguous, to show parties’ intent:)a Decides that the “Test of admissibility of extrinsic evidence to explain the meaning
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- Fall '06
- The Land, black letter, Daicoff p.