The Interpretation of Contracts 8th ed



Kim Lewison

ISBN13: 9780414118515
Previous Edition ISBN: 9780414070417
Published: December 2023
Publisher: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback


First published in 1989 and now in its eighth edition, Lewison’s Interpretation of Contracts has established itself as an indispensable resource on contracts and the leading text in its field.

This essential work provides authoritative guidance to constructing and interpreting contracts and enables practitioners to navigate the key statutes and case developments in this area, informing the process of drafting or revising a contract by identifying key principles and discussing them comprehensively, yet concisely, with reference to case law.

By enabling lawyers to construct arguments rooted in case law, this book helps lawyers better challenge contracts and explain their inadequacies.


The structure is very straightforward: a general proposition is followed by more detailed explanation with generous quotation from judgments.
The scope keeps to the principles that the courts deploy in interpreting contracts, and is thus of direct, practical relevance to barristers.
The style of approach is practical rather than theoretical. It is designed for the busy practitioner.
The coverage includes all the cases of importance in interpreting contracts (including many that are unreported).
The book goes through each component of a contract, setting out the basic proposition, followed by analysis and the most relevant judicial decisions for practitioners.
It identifies the materials available to aid in the interpretation of contracts, analysing each: the contract document, related documents, drafts, previous agreements, pre-contract agreements and negotiations, and contractual terms.
Gives background on the impact of law and precedent on interpretation, including the court’s approaches to standard forms such as conveyancing agreements.
Lays out the golden rule as regards the meaning of words, and its operation in practice through key decisions.
Assesses the dispute resolution options in the context of contract interpretation, including choice of law and scope of jurisdiction clauses.
Covers the circumstances in which terms can be implied and fulfilled, including important developments following the Belize Telecom case, and the extent to which entire agreement clauses preclude the implication of terms.
Looks at the rules of construction, including the consideration of a clause in the context of a whole document, the addition of special conditions to a standard form of contract and the relationship of general and special provisions.
Explains the meaning and operation of patent and latent ambiguity and their effects on the contract, as well as uncertainty, mistake and inconsistencies.
Explores the impact of Rainy Sky SA v Kookmin Bank and subsequent cases regarding ambiguity and ‘business common sense’.
Considers the preliminary parts of a deed (everything preceding the habendum), analysing in-depth the effect of recitals.
Reviews the subject matter of a contract, such as the inclusion or otherwise of a parcel of land, admissible evidence to identify the subject matter, evidence of physical features and plans.
Covers exclusion clauses, including indemnity, time-bar and non-reliance clauses, and the exclusion of rights and remedies; and force majeure clauses.
Considers the inclusion of certificates, consents and deeming clauses
Analyses issues of time stipulation and punctuality, in contracts such as mercantile and conditional contracts.
Explains conditions and conditional contracts, including the impact of Jet2 v Blackpool Airport on best endeavours obligations.
Discusses in detail clauses relating to penalties, termination and forfeiture.
This new edition updates the reader on key developments since the last edition was published in 2020:

Close to 200 new cases considered.
Small stream of cases to the Supreme Court on implied terms, the effect of conclusive certificates and the scope of liquidated damages clauses.
Usual steady flow of cases in the Court of Appeal and the High Court marking a period of consolidation rather than innovation.
A fully revised and reorganised Chapter 12 on Exemption Clauses to reflect the greater prominence now given to the general presumption that parties do not give up valuable rights without clear words.

1. An Overview
2. The Purpose of Interpretation
3. The Materials Available
4. Law and Precedent
5. The Meaning of Words
6. Implied Terms
7. The Canons of Construction
8. Ambiguity and Uncertainty
9. Mistakes and Inconsistencies
10. Preliminary Parts of a Contract
11. The Subject Matter of the Contract
12. Exemption Clauses
13. Force Majeure Clauses
14. Certificates, Consents, and Deeming Clauses
15. Stipulations as to Time
16. Conditions and Conditional Obligations
17. Penalties, Termination and Forfeiture Clauses
18. Dispute Resolution



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