The recent House of Lords ruling in Chartbrook v Persimmon is one of the most important decisions on the interpretation of contracts in the past decade. This was a case where, in Lord Hoffman’s words, “the drafting was careless but no one noticed.” It is unfortunately a fact of life in the insurance market that occasionally the drafting of a policy will go awry. Although the dispute concerned a property development contract, the difficulties encountered in interpreting unclear wordings are a familiar problem for insurers and brokers and the principles which can be distilled from the decision apply equally to contracts of insurance.

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