The Interpretation of Contracts

Lewison's Interpretation of Contracts

A leading text in its field, Lewison's Interpretation of Contracts offers thorough and comprehensive coverage of the main aspects of constructing and interpreting contracts.

First published in 1989 and now in its seventh 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.

It 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.


Sir Kim Lewison explains the principles that have been used by the courts in their decisions, with extensive quotations from these judgments thereby enabling you to construct solid arguments based on the principles laid down by case law. Frequently referred to in decided cases, you can confidently rely on the author's expert analysis in court and cite relevant passages in the book to back your arguments.


It is a practical, nuts-and-bolts work written to aid busy practitioners in deploying sound principles when constructing contracts. Its structure is one where a basic proposition in each section is given in bold, which is then followed by a practical presentation of the judge's decisions in the most relevant cases.


    • 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