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Contract terms: Evidence of long-established practice may be used to resolve contractual ambiguity

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Dunlop Tyres Ltd v Blows and others [2001] IRLR 629 CA (0 other reports)

In Dunlop Tyres Ltd v Blows 18.6.01, the Court of Appeal holds that the EAT erred in discounting the evidence of a long-established practice in seeking to find the correct interpretation of contractual overtime provisions. Where the terms of a contract are truly ambiguous, it is open to a court to look at the practice established by the parties, attaching considerable importance to it as a powerful indicator of the intentions of the parties. Where a practice does not change after a contract is made, this is clear evidence that the parties intended no change to the contractual terms. As there was evidence indicating the existence of a long-established practice before the common terms were agreed, which continued unchanged thereafter, this was part of the contractual matrix against which the agreements should be construed, indicating that the interpretation of the employees should be preferred over that of their employer.