No. IV.5.2 - Context-oriented interpretation

Contractual stipulations shall be interpreted taking into account the whole context in which they appear.

1 The Principle takes account of the fact that contractual stipulations form an integral part of the contract in which they appear. Very often, there are connections between the various contract clauses in a contract. The contractual agreement may consist of a number of contract documents, which, in their entirety, constitute the contract and which may or may not include indications as to the hierarchy between the various documents which must be observed when interpreting the clauses which make the contract.

2 For all these reasons, any interpretation of a contract clause must not look at that clause in isolation but must take into account the contract as a whole. This includes the preamble of the contract which may contain important guidelines for the interpretation and understanding of the contract as a whole. A letter of intent concluded prior to the contract itself may also provide helpful guidance for the interpretation of the clauses contained in the contract.

Please cite as: "Commentary to Trans-Lex Principle ,"
Arbitral Awards
Ad-Hoc-Award, Kuwait v. The American Independent Oil Company (AMINOIL), 21 ILM 976
CRCICA Award no. 64/1995, in: Mohie Eldin I. Alam Eldin, Arbitral Awards of the Cairo Regional Centre of International Commercial Arbitration, The Hague 2000, 175
ICC Award No. 12290, Collection of ICC Arbitral Awards 2008-2011, at Page 831 et seq.
ICC Award No. 13278, YCA 2008, 118 et seq.
ICC Award No. 5961, Clunet 1997, at 1051 et seq.
ICC Award No. 8908, ICC Bull. 10/No. 2 (1999), at 83 et seq.
ICSID Award of December 29, 2004, Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka A.S. v. The Slovak Republic, Case No. ARB/97/4,
Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. v. Oil Gas Commission of India (1995)
Court Decisions
Davis Contractos Ltd. v. Fareham Urban District Council, [1956] A.C. 696


Energy Transport Ltd. v. M.V. San Sebastian, 348 F Suppl. 2d 186
Interpretation of Peace Treaties, ICJ Rep. 1950, at 221 et seq.
Paul Revere Variable Annuity Insurance Company et al v. Maureen A. Kirschhofer et al., 226 F.3d 15 (1st Cir. 2000)
Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd v. Oil & Natural Gas Commission of India, (India) C.A. No. 3185 of 2002
Craig, W. Laurence/ Park, William W./ Paulsson, Jan, International Chamber of Commerce Arbitration, 3rd ed., Dobbs Ferry 2000
Domingo, Ortega, Rodriguez-Antolin, Zambrana, Principios de Derecho Global, Navarra, 2006
Fouchard Gaillard Goldman on International Commercial Arbitration (edited by Emmanuel Gaillard and John Savage) The Hague 1999
Hascher, Dominique, note to ICC Award No. 5961, Clunet 1997, at 1054 et seq.
Kahn, Philippe, L’interpretation des contrats internationaux, 108 Clunet 1981, at 5 et seq.
Kersley, R.H., M.A., LL.M./ Broom, Herbert, LL.D., A Selection of Legal Maxims, 10th ed. London, 1939
Marrella, Fabrizio, La nuova lex mercatoria, Principi Unidroit ed usi di contratti des comercio internazionale, CEDAM, Tratto di dritto commerciale e di dritto publico dell‘economia, Volume 30, Padova 2003
Triebel, Volker, Pitfalls of Englisch as a Contract Language, in: Frances Olsen et al (eds), Translation Issues in Language and Law (2009), at 147 et seq.
Wühler, Norbert, Application of General Principles of Law, in van den Berg (ed.), Planning efficient Arbitration Proceedings - The Law Applicable in International Arbitration, p. 553 et seq.
International Legislation
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969
Model Laws
Draft Common Frame of Reference (EU) - DCFR (2008)
National Legislation
Contract Law of the People's Republic of China
Ethiopian Civil Code
Principles / Restatements
UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts
Contract Clauses
There are currently no contract clauses.
A project of CENTRAL, University of Cologne.