If there is a Spelling Mistake in a Contract, is it Still Legal?

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Contract Law Attorney

What if you or I had the word “contractor” spelled wrong in a real estate contract? Say I put “conractor” in the contract. So there is a “t” missing. (Did you even notice the typo?). Does the mistake render the contract unenforceable?

Generally speaking, as long as the intent of the word is clear, the fact that it is merely misspelled will not invalidate the term(s) of the contract in which the misspelling is found. These types of mistakes are known as a “Scrivener’s Error” and date back to the days when contracts were written entirely in longhand and the likelihood of some minor and meaningless error was significantly higher.

Sometimes a mistake in word selection and/or spelling can matter. A spelling mistake can cause problems in a contract if it somehow alters the meaning of that contract or if it causes the phrase to have more than one meaning. In such a case, only that particular sentence will be in dispute. Then a judge will have to decide the intent of the parties. In my example the misspelling of contractor was clearly a spelling error, it has no other meaning and most likely it is clear from the rest of the contract what the word is meant to be.

To discuss your NJ contract law matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.