If a contract includes multiple and/or statements, how are these generally interpreted?

For example when defining the competing fields in a hypothetical non-compete clause as

in the field of automation and/or design of cars and/or trucks

what would be the common interpretation?

Option 1:

  • automation, and/or
  • design of cars, and/or
  • design of trucks

Option 2:

  • automation of cars, and/or
  • automation of trucks, and/or
  • design of cars, and/or
  • design of trucks, and/or

1 Answer 1


The example given is a case of an ambiguous statement in a contract.

When a contract is ambiguous, a court looks to the overall context of the contract and "extrinsic evidence" (i.e. evidence other than the text of the contract such as evidence regarding how the contract was negotiated or drafted) in an effort to determine the intent of the parties, if indeed the ambiguity is relevant to facts that actually arise.

If the ambiguity is not relevant to facts that actually arise, the ambiguity is left unresolved.

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