Employment contracts: Say what you mean (Legal View)

Plain language meaning will likely prevail in court, regardless of intentions
By Nikolay Chsherbinin
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 12/04/2012

Many experienced employment lawyers and HR professionals recognize the importance of written employment contracts. Their purpose is to clearly define the terms and conditions that represent the actual intentions of the contracting parties at the time of its execution.

However, written words, taken in isolation, have an inherent ambiguity that often finds its way into a courtroom, requiring a judge to determine the meaning of the written contract.

A good example is the recent decision in Freudenberg Household Products Inc. v. DiGiammarino, where judge Geoffrey Morawetz of the Ontario Superior Court was asked to interpret the meaning of the severance provision in an employment contract.