Fisher Law Corporation’s Frequently Asked Questions

The following are select subjects which are representative of the type of law we practice. Peruse the articles: If you don't find a subject that interests you, call us or e-mail us with your request.

Notice: The information contained in these articles is designed to provide accurate information in regard to the subject matters covered and is made available with the understanding that the information provided does not constitute the rendering of legal or professional services. All information is of a general nature, is specific to California law only, and is not intended to to replace professional or legal advice. Each person’s situation is unique and the information contained herein cannot be applied to any individual’s situation. If legal advise is required, the services of a professional should be sought.

What is an all-inclusive deed of trust? »

What is CERCLA? »

How does a condominium differ from a house? »

What are Covenants that run with the land? »

What is a deed in lieu of foreclosure? »

What are easements? »

What are Encroachments? »

How does escrow work? »

What is fire and flood insurance? »

How do foreclosures work? »

What are the different forms of doing business? »

What do trade terms mean? »

What are liquidated damages in real property contracts? »

What is a Lis Pendens? »

How do loan modifications work? »

What is a Mechanic’s Lien? »

How does a Multiple Listing Service work? »

What is an off-shore trust? »

How do real property taxes work? »

What is Procuring Cause? »

What is a Quitclaim Deed? »

What is RESPA? »

Who bears the risk of loss during escrow? »

What are second deeds of trust? »

What is the Statute of Frauds? »

What is Statute of Limitations on Debts Secured By a Mortgage? »

Does a buyer’s broker have a duty to inspect? »

What is The Parol Evidence Rule? »

What is Adverse Possession? »


Q. What is The Parol Evidence Rule?

A. The determination of whether an ambiguity exists in a contract is a question of law, and the trial court’s ruling is not binding on an appellate court. When the contract is not ambiguous, when there is no extrinsic evidence or the extrinsic evidence is not conflicting, the interpretation of the contract is a question of law, in which case the reviewing court makes an independent determination of the meaning of the agreement.

The parol evidence rule prohibits the introduction of extrinsic evidence to vary or contradict the terms of an integrated written instrument, and even if it is not integrated, parol evidence is not admissible if it is inconsistent with the express terms of the written document. When the terms of the contract are ambiguous, reference can be made to surrounding circumstances, and extrinsic evidence is admissible as an aid to the interpretation of a written contract to support a meaning to which the contract is reasonably susceptible even if the contract is not ambiguous on its face. Matters of custom and usage are included within the terms of the contract unless there are express terms to the contrary.

When interpreting contracts the paramount consideration is the intention of the contracting parties at the time of contracting to the extent that such intent is ascertainable and lawful from an examination of the entire contract. Words in a written contract are given their ordinary and popular meaning unless there is evidence that the parties intended otherwise. When the terms of the promise are uncertain or ambiguous, they are interpreted in the sense in which the promisor believed that the promisee understood them at the time of contracting.

If an agreement is susceptible to more than one interpretation, the court interprets it to make it lawful, operative, definite, reasonable, and capable of being performed, in order to uphold the validity of the contract without violating the intention of the parties. When interpreting the contract, harsh and unfair results should be avoided. Forfeitures are disfavored, and the person claiming a forfeiture has the burden of establishing the right to the forfeiture.

When two or more separately executed documents are executed as part of the same transaction, relating to the same matter and between the same parties, they are interpreted together as one contract. As a general rule, uncertainties and ambiguities are construed against the party who created them in drafting the contract. However, when the contract is the product of the joint drafting efforts of both parties, this rule does not apply.

When other rules are not applicable, and different constructions of a particular provision are equally proper, the provision is construed in a manner which is most favorable to the party in whose favor the provision was made.

The facts recited in a written instrument are conclusively presumed to be true as between the parties, or their successors in interest; but this rule does not apply to the recital of consideration. As a general rule, in absence of fraud or a confidential relationship that imposes a disclosure duty, a person who accepts or executes a document which purports to be a contract on its face is deemed to agree to its terms, and he cannot avoid its provisions based on the claim that he has not read it. Every person is required to read the terms of an agreement before it is executed, and if he cannot read, he should have it read or explained to him.

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