Contract interpretation is a staple of litigation in the Delaware Court of Chancery. Disputes over the meaning of commercial contracts, foundational documents such as certificates of incorporation or bylaws or agreements governing alternative entities such as limited liability companies or limited partnerships require the court to interpret language in contracts.

So too do merger, stock purchase or sale of asset agreements. With the expansion of jurisdiction under Section 111(a)(2) of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) in 2016, disputes over the interpretation of agreements arising out of stock purchase and asset sale agreements may be expected to increase the number of cases requiring the court to interpret parties’ agreements. The recent case of Shareholder Representative Services v. Gilead Sciences, C. A. No. 10537-CB (March 15), illustrates the methodology the court uses to interpret a contract and provides a primer for litigants seeking guidance on how the Court of Chancery resolves contract disputes.

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