Ray v. William G. Eurice & Bros., Inc. - Case Summary

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Modified: 22nd Feb 2024
Wordcount: 626 words


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Legal Case Summary

Summary: The court upheld the written agreement over the verbal statements made during negotiations, cementing the parol evidence rule.


In the case of Ray v. Eurice Bros., the plaintiffs (Ray) entered a contract with the defendant (Eurice Bros.) for the construction of a house. The contract explicitly stated the details regarding the materials to be used in the construction along with detailed specifications. However, in the course of negotiations, verbal statements were made implying that certain higher quality materials were to be used, contrary to the explicit terms in the written contract.

When the defendants proceeded to build the house according to the written specification in the contract, the plaintiffs sought to void the contract, arguing that there was 'no meeting of the minds' and thus no contract had been formed.


The main issue in question was whether the court should give precedence to the written agreement or the statements made verbally in the negotiations. This raises an important question in the interpretation of contracts and in particular, the operation of the 'parol evidence rule' (the principle that evidence of oral agreements or statements is not admitted as evidence in court when the parties have entered into a written agreement) a key precedent in contractual law.


The decision in Ray v. Eurice Bros. is significant as it strengthens the sanctity of written contracts over oral statements made in the course of negotiations. It set a clear precedent on the application of the parol evidence rule, underlining the importance of a written contract in disputes, and emphasized the point of clear and unequivocal language in contracts. This case is frequently cited in legal disputes involving contract interpretation and the parol evidence rule.


In its decision, the court ruled in favour of Eurice Bros., upholding the written specifications in the contract over the verbal negotiations that implied otherwise. The court found that the contract was clear and unequivocal, siding with the objective theory of contracts. This principle states that contracts are determined by the manifestations of mutual assent rather than the actual intentions of the individual parties.


  • Ray v. William G. Eurice & Bros., Inc., 201 Md. 115, 93 A.2d 272 (1953)
  • Beale, H. (2002). Chitty on contracts. London: Sweet & Maxwell.

Journalist Brief

In simple terms, Ray v. Eurice Bros. is a landmark case in contract law. In this case, a disagreement arose between a home-building company (Eurice Bros.) and their client (Ray) about what quality of materials would be used in building a house. While there had been a verbal agreement between the two parties about using certain higher quality materials, the written contract specified lower-quality materials. When there was a dispute over this, the court decided that the signed written contract is what truly matters, not any verbal agreements that might have taken place. This decision underscores the importance of making sure any agreements made are clearly stated and written down in the contract to avoid later disputes. The case is often referred to in other cases revolving around contract disputes.


What was the decision in Ray v. Eurice Bros.?

Answer: The court decided in favour of Eurice Bros., stating that the written contract takes precedence over any verbal agreements made during negotiations.

Why is this case significant?

Answer: It set a precedent for prioritizing written agreements over oral statements and underscored the importance of clear language in contracts.

What is the parol evidence rule?

Answer: The parol evidence rule is a principle stating that evidence of oral agreements or statements isn't admitted in court if the parties have a written agreement.

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