In an earlier article I explained that parol evidence (extrinsic evidence) is inadmissible to determine the intent of an unambiguous agreement. The corollary is that parol evidence is admissible to determine the intent of an ambiguous agreement. Naturally, parties want their agreements to be clear—crystal clear—to avoid any argument regarding an ambiguity. For example, in a recent case, a commercial lease was deemed ambiguous regarding the tenant’s lease rate. As a result, the landlord could not ram its commercial eviction claim through the court due to what it claimed to be the tenant not paying the right lease rate. Instead, evidence needed to be considered regarding the intent of the parties, particularly as it pertained to the paragraph in the lease regarding the lease rate. Clearly, this is not what the commercial landlord wanted and, perhaps, could have been avoided by specific and unambiguous language regarding the lease rate. Remember, an ambiguity regarding a material portion of an agreement is bad–it just leads to the inevitable dispute.
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