It’s a Bad Idea to Rely on Principles of Interpretation in Deciding on Contract Language

Yesterday I encountered this LinkedIn post about “canons of construction.” (I call them “principles of interpretation.”) The post begins as follows: Tip for law students and newer attorneys: Familiarize yourself with the rules of contract interpretation (often called “canons”), if, like me, you didn’t learn them in law school. Courts rely on these default rules to interpret contracts and statutes. … Read More

A New Delaware Case Shows When It Doesn’t Make Sense for Words to Take Precedence Over Digits in Interpreting Numbers

I noticed that the recent opinion of the Delaware Chancery Court in Fetch InteractiveTelevision LLC v. Touchstream Technologies Inc. (here) featured the following snippet from the contract at issue: “[FetchIT] shall cure such default within fifteen (30) days or immediately if deemed to be incurable.” Yes, the number expressed using a word doesn’t match the number in parentheses. I’ve written … Read More

What’s So Compelling About Commas and Legal Disputes?

Yesterday I did this post about the recent First Circuit opinion in which lack of a serial (or Oxford) comma featured prominently. That opinion prompted no end of articles in the established media (including this article in the New York Times) and no end of chatter on social media. And many of my readers rushed to tell me about it. … Read More

Courts Are Citing MSCD

Last week I mentioned in this post that the Delaware Supreme Court had cited A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. Well, yesterday I noticed that in an opinion issued this week (here) the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had cited it too, the issue in this case being where to place the defined-term parenthetical when you create an integrated … Read More

Some Thoughts on Scalia and Garner’s Book “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts”

Over the past couple of days I’ve been dipping into the new book co-authored by Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. My interest is drafting contracts, not interpreting them. But to stay out of trouble when drafting contracts, it helps to have a decent grasp of how judges ascertain the meaning of contract language. So … Read More