Codelfa Constructions Pty Ltd v State Rail Authority of New South Wales: 1982

(High Court of Australia) Mason J said: ‘The implication of a term is to be compared, and at the same time contrasted, with rectification of the contract. In each case the problem is caused by a deficiency in the expression of the consensual agreement. A term which should have been included has been omitted. The difference is that with rectification the term which has been omitted and should have been included was actually agreed upon; with implication the term is one which it is presumed that the parties would have agreed upon had they turned their minds to it – it is not a term that they have actually agreed upon. Thus, in the case of the implied term the deficiency in the expression of the consensual agreement is caused by the failure of the parties to direct their minds to a particular eventuality and to make explicit provision for it. Rectification ensures that the contract gives effect to the parties’ actual intention; the implication of a term is designed to give effect to the parties’ presumed intention.’
‘The true rule is that evidence of surrounding circumstances is admissible to assist in the interpretation of the contract if the language is ambiguous or susceptible of more than one meaning. But it is not admissible to contradict the language of the contract when it has a plain meaning . .
When the issue is which of two or more possible meanings is to be given to a contractual provision we look, not to the actual intentions, aspirations or expectations of the parties before or at the time of the contract, except in so far as they are expressed in the contract, but to the objective framework of facts within which the contract came into existence and to the parties presumed intention in this setting.’


Mason J


(1982) 149 CLR 337



Cited by:

CitedLegal and General Assurance Society Ltd v Expeditors International (Uk) Ltd CA 24-Jan-2007
Leases contained break clauses which the tenant purported to exercise. The landlord replied that they were ineffective because the tenant had not complied with his repair covenants. The dispute appeared settled after negotiations, and the settlement . .
CitedFSHC Group Holdings Ltd v Glas Trust Corporation Ltd CA 31-Jul-2019
Rectification – Chartbrook not followed
Opportunity for an appellate court to clarify the correct test to apply in deciding whether the written terms of a contract may be rectified because of a common mistake.
Held: The appeal failed. The judge was right to conclude that an . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 15 July 2022; Ref: scu.248232