New Hampshire Insurance Company and Others v MGN Ltd and Others

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date25 July 1995
Date25 July 1995
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)

Court of Appeal

New Hampshire Insurance Co and Others
MGN Ltd and Others

Contract - interpretation - evidence of undisclosed intention inadmissible

Common undisclosed intention irrelevant

In interpreting a written contract, evidence that both parties had had the same undisclosed intention as to its effect was inadmissible.

The Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Staughton, Lord Justice Millett and Lord Justice Ward) so held on June 15, allowing in part an interlocutory appeal by the plaintiffs, New Hampshire Insurance Co and others, against the decision of Mr Justice Potter in the Queen's Bench Division on June 13 to exclude certain evidence from a trial of preliminary issues against the defendants, MGN Ltd and others, relating to insurance contracts.

LORD JUSTICE STAUGHTON said that the first principle of interpreting written contracts was that nothing was relevant unless it was known or was reasonably capable of being known to both parties at the time the contract was made. Therefore, an undisclosed intention held by one party was not admissible in evidence for the purposes of interpreting a contract.

The first reason for that was purely practical; both parties would swear they had meant the contract to...

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30 cases
  • Arab Bank Plc v Zurich Insurance Company [QBD (Comm)]
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Commercial Court)
    • June 16, 1998
    ... ... ( New Hampshire Insurance Co v MGN Ltd [1996] CLC 1692 applied.) 3. B's ... Zurich's solicitors for the purpose of defending the claims brought against JDW by BBL and others: e.g. that he had inspected one of the properties prior to preparing a valuation of it, when he had ... ...
  • McAleenan v AIG (Europe) Ltd
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • July 16, 2010
    ...1 All ER 465 and Yorkville Nominees Pty Ltd v Lissenden (1985-1986) 160 CLR 475 approved - New Hampshire Insurance Company v MGN Ltd [1997] LRLR 24, Rohan Construction v Insurance Corporation Ireland plc [1986] ILRM 419, Arab Bank plc v Zurich Insurance Company [1999] 1 Lloyd's Rep 262 and......
  • HLB Kidsons (A Firm) v Lloyd's Underwriters subscribing to Lloyds Policy No 621/PKID00101 & Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division (Commercial Court)
    • October 14, 2008
    ...his argument that the principles of agency attribution and section 16 did not apply to this case. These were: New Hampshire Insurance Co and Others v MGN Ltd and Others [1997] LRLR 24, Arab Bank v Zurich Bank [1999] 1 Lloyd's Rep.262; and Fisher v Guardian Insurance Co. of Canada [1995] 123......
  • K/s Merc-scandia Xxxxii v Certain Lloyd's Underwriters and Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • July 31, 2001
    ...material matters, if the insurer is entitled to cancel the policy by serving a notice of cancellation. This court held in New Hampshire Insurance v. MGN Ltd [1997] L.R.L.R. 24 that there was not. Staughton LJ gave the judgment of the court; he set out section 17 of the Act and the requireme......
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