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I'm attempting to parse a US contract that states that its "expiration date" is 20th March 2021. Ideally the contract itself would specify explicitly that either:

  1. the expiration date is the first day on which the contract is not in force - meaning that the contract expires at midnight at the start of its expiration date, or
  2. the expiration date is the last day on which the contract is in force - meaning that the contract expires at midnight at the end of its expiration date.

However, it does not.

In the absence of any such disambiguating text, is such a contract still in force on its "expiration date"? Is there statute or case law dictating this?

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In the absence of any such disambiguating text, is such a contract still in force on its "expiration date"?

One cannot answer in the affirmative or in the negative without assessing the contract altogether and perhaps the extrinsic evidence. If the matter is not ascertainable from elsewhere in the contract, the controversy would have to be decided via the doctrine of contra proferentem.

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    Why not articulate the reason or pretext for the downvote? – Iñaki Viggers Feb 9 at 20:33
  • I am not the downvoter - I don't have the rep - but I suspect the downvote is because you've provided no sources to substantiate that what you claim in this answer is actually true. It seems plausible to me as a layman, but then it also seems plausible to me as a layman that there might be some convention, perhaps enshrined in statute, about how to interpret an "expiry date". – Mark Amery Mar 4 at 8:06
  • @MarkAmery "there might be some convention". There is none, and a law toward establishing a convention is likelier to do more harm than good because of the great variability of contracts as to their terms, nature, and circumstances. Partlow v. Matthews, 43 Wn.2d 398, 407 (1953) is an instance of a contract where, not being explicit in this regard, its termination is construed to "become effective on the expiration date" (emphasis added) rather than the day after. Yet that construction does not constitute binding precedent. – Iñaki Viggers Mar 4 at 13:09
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Yes

In a normally drafted contract, dates are inclusive. So an “expiry date” is the last date the contract was in force, expiring at 23:59:59 since midnight is actually the first moment of the next day. Most contracts don’t usually need such precision in their timekeeping but some do.

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    Source/prooflink? Also, you've lost one second between 23:59:59 and midnight. It still belongs to the previous day. – Greendrake Feb 10 at 5:50
  • Greendrake, 23:59:59 is unambiguous. "Noon" is unambiguous. "Midnight" isn't. You could claim that "Midnight" is obviously at the start of the day, and I could claim that "Midnight" is obviously at the end of the day. Being unambigous is more important than the one second. – gnasher729 Feb 10 at 16:34

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