PPC Contract Dispute Over Unclear Terms
19th February 2018Back to articles
Business relationships that are meant to continue harmoniously for years can all too easily be poisoned by disagreements about the interpretation of contractual wording. However, as one High Court case showed, judges are adept at resolving such disputes speedily and at surprisingly low cost.
The case concerned a five-year private/public contract by which a company agreed to maintain a local authority's traffic signal installations and associated equipment and to construct or replace them when necessary. Some months after the deal was signed, differences emerged as to the proper interpretation of two important parts of the contract.
Both the company and the council had endeavoured to settle the disagreement without recourse to formal dispute resolution methods. However, after that proved impossible, a fast-track procedure was employed to bring the dispute before the Court. Both sides agreed to be bound by the Court's decision.
Following a hearing that lasted only one day, the Court noted that what mattered was the objective meaning of the contract, to be derived from the natural and ordinary meaning of the words used.
After giving detailed consideration to the proper construction of the contract and prices to be paid for work done, the Court noted that, applying those principles, interpreting the contract posed little difficulty.
Paul Walshe, Litigation Solicitor says "Many arguments of this kind never get anywhere near a court – they are resolved by negotiation well in advance. Our expertise can help you with any legal dispute, hopefully without the need for a court hearing."
For information and advice contact us in Royal Wootton Bassett on 01793 853200.