Monday, July 27, 2015

Contract interpretation, on the motion and on appeal

Practice point:  The court's function is to apply the meaning intended by the parties, as derived from the language of the contract itself.  In interpreting a contract, words should be accorded their fair and reasonable meaning, and the aim is a practical interpretation of the expressions of the parties to the end that there be a realization of the parties' reasonable expectations. A written agreement that is complete, clear and unambiguous on its face must be enforced according to the plain meaning of its terms, and the fact that the parties offer conflicting interpretations of a contract does not render it ambiguous.  Where the parties' intention may be gathered from the four corners of the instrument, interpretation of the contract is a question of law and no trial is necessary to determine the contract's legal effect, if any.

Student note:  On appeal, the standard of review is for the Appellate Division to examine the contract's language de novo.

Case:  Dreisinger v. Teglasi, NY Slip Op 06197 (1st Dept. 2015)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Family Court's subject matter jurisdiction.