Using extrinsic evidence where the property description is unclear

In Superene Ltd v Metro Fair Ltd ([2014] HKEC 99, CA) the Court of Appeal had to consider whether an assignment had included the whole of a column next to the front entrance of the property that had been assigned or only part of it. The assignment described the property by reference to a plan. Although the plan was rough and ready, the Court of Appeal felt that it was sufficiently clear to allow a conclusion to be reached without any need to refer to extrinsic evidence. It decided that only half the column had been included in the assignment. 

The judgment of Barma JA notes the argument of counsel for the defendant ([12]) that extrinsic evidence (here a description of the property in a tender document) is admissible either (i) as part of the factual matrix according to the established principles of contractual interpretation or (ii) where the instrument in question does not clearly define the land transferred (Scarfe v Adams [1981] 1 All ER 843 at 851, CA (Eng) per Griffiths LJ).

Michael Lower

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