This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Under cover of construction a court can not reform a written contract to make it express the real intention of the parties, which by mistake is not expressed in the words thereof.1 This principle is sometimes stated in the form that the court has no power to make a contract for the parties.2
The fact that the construction which is reached by the application of legal rules and upon consideration of admissible evidence, does not reach a just result, does not authorize a court of law to add, by construction, terms which are not fairly set forth by the parties in the language which they have chosen to use.3 Thus a clause fixing a price per car, "excepting only empty freight cars and such loaded freight cars as are destined to or originate at points outside the city, on or beyond the first party's line," can not be restricted to such empty cars as originate outside the city, but applies to all empty cars.4 If a contract confers upon B the right to remove all the coal from underneath A's land, the court can not add to such contract a provision requiring B to leave sufficient coal to support A's land or to substitute artificial supports in case he wishes to remove the coal which he has purchased.5 At the same time there are a number of well-settled rules of law, such as those with reference to the subject of implied warranties,6 which in effect add provisions to an express contract. The addition of these terms, however, can be justified upon the theory that the law is to be regarded as a part of the contract.7 If oral evidence of the actual intention of the parties is offered without objection to supplement an evident omission, the court may consider such evidence in determining the intention of the parties and in supplying such omission.8
6 Rhein v. Burns, 162 Wis. 300, 156 N. W. 138.
7 Jensen v. Perry, 126 Pa. St. 495, 12 Am. St. Rep. 888, 17 Atl. 665.
8 Cook v. Littlefield, 98 Me. 299, 56 Atl. 899.
9 Holden v. Royall, 169 N. Car. 676, 86 S. E. 583; Paulson v. Weeks, 80 Or. 468, 157 Pac. 590 (obiter).
1 United. States. Bobbins v. Rollins, 127 U. S. 622, 32 L. ed. 292; Pacific Hardware & Steel Co. v. United States, 49 Ct. cl. 327.
Alabama. Lee v. Cochran, 157 Ala. 311, 47 So. 581; Jones v. Lanier, - Ala. - , 73 So. 535.
Florida. Continental Casualty Co. v. Bows, 72 Fla. 17, 72 So. 278.
Illinois. Conway Co. v. Chicago, 274 111. 369, 113 N. E. 703.
Kentucky. Games v. Frazier (Ky.), 118 S. W. 998.
Maryland. Washington, B. & A. R Co. v. Moss, 127 Md. 12, 96 Atl. 273.
Montana. Brian v. Oregon Short Line Ry. Co., 40 Mont. 109, 25 L. R. A. (N S.) 450, 20 Am. & Eng. Ann. Cas. 311, 105 Pac. 489.
Nebraska. Te Poel v. Shutt, 57 Neb. 592, 78 N. W. 288.
New Jersey. Kupfersmith v. Delaware Ins. Co., 84 N. J. L. 271, 45 L. R. A. (N.S.) 847, Ann. Cas. 1914C, 1172, 86 Atl. 399; Kimble v. Newark, 91 N. J. 249, 102 Atl. 637; Kimble v. Mayor, - N. J. - , L. R. A. 1918E, 793, 102 Atl. 637.
North Carolina. Sinclair v. Hicks, 116 N. Car. 606, 21 S. E. 395; Cuth-bertson v. Morgan, 149 N. Car. 72, 62 S. E. 744.
Utah. Wm. B. Hughes Produce Co. v. Pulley, 47 Utah 544, L. R. A. 1916D, 728, 155 Pac. 337; Johnson v. Oeddes, 49 Utah 137, 161 Pac. 910.
West Virginia. Carper v. United Fuel Cas Co., 78 W. Va. 433, L. R. A. 1917A, 171, 89 S. E. 12.
Wisconsin. Zohrlaut v. Mengelberg, 144 Wis. 564, 124 N. W. 247.
Wyoming. Phillips v. Hamilton, 17 Wvom. 41, 95 Pac. 846.
2 Peterson v. Modern Brotherhood of America, 125 la. 562, 67 L. R. A. 631, 101 N. W. 289.
3 Washington, 8. & A. R. Co. v. Mobs, 127 Md. 12, 96 Atl. 273.
4 Louisville, etc., Ry. v. Ry., 100 Ky. 690, 39 S. W. 42.
5 Griffin v. Fairmount Coal Co., 59
W. Va. 480, 2 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1115, 53 S. E. 24.
6 See Sec. 392 and 393. 7 See Sec. 2048.
8 Pacific Surety Co. v. .Toye, 224 Mass. 98, 112 N. £. 653.