Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

Contra Proferentem: Every Insured’s Favorite Latin Phrase

August 2017 Bar Bulletin

By James R. Murray 
and Kristin C. Davis

For every oft-used legal rule is a forgotten Latin phrase. The principles of contract interpretation are no exception.

Contra proferentem, literally translated to “against the one bringing forth or proffering,” refers to the doctrine of contract interpretation directing that ambiguous terms in a contract are to be construed against the drafter. That is, when interpreting a provision of a contract, if a phrase or term is ambiguous (meaning the word or phrase is reasonably susceptible to different interpretations, even if one is preferred), the term will be interpreted in the manner most favorable for the party who did...

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