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When a word in a contract could have multiple meanings

Sometimes, after two parties have formed a business contract, they get into a dispute over what each of them is required or allowed to do under the contract. Sometimes, such disputes center on what exactly a given word or set of words in the contract means in the context of the contract. This can happen when the word or words in question could have multiple prevailing meanings.

Sometimes, parties to a contract are able to resolve a dispute over meanings of the words in a contract on their own. Other times though, the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the dispute, and the dispute ends up being at the center of a contract-related lawsuit, such as a breach of contract lawsuit.

When a dispute over contract meaning is at the center of a contract-related lawsuit that comes before a court, it will often be up to the court to decide the meaning through making an interpretation of the contract. Under Louisiana law, contract interpretation by courts is aimed at determining what the parties' common intent was. There are a number of contract interpretation rules in Louisiana law that courts are to turn to when making such a determination.

One of these rules directly addresses situations in which words in the contract could have multiple prevailing meanings. Under the rule, in such situations, courts are to pick the meaning that is most consistent with the contract's object.

As we alluded to above, this is just one of many rules there are in the state for contract interpretation. Thus, legal matters involving disputes over contract meaning can be quite complex and there are a variety of things parties may want to keep in mind when developing arguments in cases involving such matters. Attorneys can provide help and legal support to business and individuals that are involved in these often-complex sorts of cases. 

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