Contractual legal maxim on silence. Give me the details.
October 18, 2010 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a Latin legal maxim which says something like 'if a contract is silent on a point, it should be assumed that it is silent on purpose, and you should not read terms into the contract'. It is not "sub silentio", and in fact is almost the opposite of it. Can you refresh my memory?
posted by evadery to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's not quite that, but there is "Expressio unius est exclusio alterius" (The express mention of one thing excludes all others).
posted by jedicus at 11:38 AM on October 18, 2010

I came to say what jedicus said.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:43 AM on October 18, 2010

You may also be thinking of the parole evidence rule, though it doesn't have a pithy Latin phrase to go with it that I can think of.
posted by jedicus at 11:45 AM on October 18, 2010

parol evidence rule. How embarrassing.
posted by jedicus at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2010

It also sounds like there's a parallel to what you want in the (US) plain meaning rule (a/k/a the literal rule) of statutory construction, which says that you use the ordinary meaning of the language used in the statute. Only when things aren't clear from the plain meaning do you start going to legislative history and intent. I am unaware of any Latin maxims relating to that rule, though.

Also, doesn't the parol evidence rule only trigger when there's an integration clause in the contract? I honestly can't remember from my legal history class whether the parol evidence rule goes as far back as Blackstone, but my knee-jerk reaction is that it's a more recent construction.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 12:16 PM on October 18, 2010

Response by poster: Gah. I should have known that. Thanks!

Any other fun contractual maxims I should know about? I was just reminded of contra proferentem (ambiguous term construed against party imposing it)...
posted by evadery at 12:26 PM on October 18, 2010

There's a few on the Wikipedia page regarding canons of construction.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:59 PM on October 18, 2010

Sometimes called the "expressio unius" or "expressio" principle for short.
posted by John Cohen at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2010

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