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Canons of Construction

Statutory Construction, Contract Construction

The system of basic rules and maxims applied by a court to aid in its interpretation of a written document, such as a statute or contract.

In the case of a statute, certain canons of construction can help a court ascertain what the drafters of the statute—usually Congress or a state legislature—meant by the language used in the law. When a dispute involves a contract, a court will apply other canons of interpretation, or construction, to help determine what the parties to the agreement intended at the time they made the contract.


Ruff, Anne. 1999. Contract Law. London: Sweet and Maxwell.

Spiropoulos, Andrew C. 2001. "Making Laws Moral: A Defense of Substantive Canons of Construction." Utah Law Review (fall): 915–63.

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