Plain-Meaning Rule

Plain-Meaning Rule

A principle used by courts in interpreting contracts that provides that the objective definitions of contractual terms are controlling, irrespective of whether the language comports with the actual intention of either party.

The plain meaning of the contract will be followed where the words used—whether written or oral—have a clear and unambiguous meaning. Words are given their ordinary meaning; technical terms are given their technical meaning; and local, cultural, or Trade Usage of terms are recognized as applicable. The circumstances surrounding the formation of the contract are also admissible to aid in the interpretation.

References in periodicals archive ?
6) This objective approach, which is broadly referred to in the United States as textualism, is based on the plain-meaning rule.
court has explicitly rejected the so-called plain-meaning rule.
The court then announced that it would no longer follow the dictates of the plain-meaning rule, which it said was fraught with flaws and inconsistencies, in determining the meaning of statutes.
It is a misnomer to say, as the plain-meaning rule says, that, if the language is plain and unambiguous, there is no room for interpretation, because application of the statutory language to the facts of the case is interpretation of that language.
While no other state has adopted the same formula for statutory interpretation, Alaska has declined to follow the plain-meaning rule for decades.
122) To similar effect is the argument that the plain-meaning rule is "rather an axiom of experience than a rule of law, and does not preclude consideration of persuasive evidence if it exists.
Important as I think it is, I must admit that not all appellate judges subscribe to the plain-meaning rule.
Here's what I mean by that: When appellate courts apply the plain-meaning rule to construe a statute by using language in the way in which it is used in everyday speech, they are primarily doing two things.
Moreover, courts will not apply the plain-meaning rule where language is shown to be a typographical error, or where facially plain language in a statute is made ambiguous by other language in the statute that contradicts it.