website article – January 2, 2015 COLORADO PAROLE EVIDENCE RULE

The parole evidence rule is a rule of contract law not a rule of evidence. The premise of the rule is the written terms of a contract should not able to be varied by extrinsic evidence including oral (parole) statements made before or during the time of making the agreement.

The rule does not apply if there is no contract. But if there appears to be a writing signed by both parties the admission of evidence to explain or vary the agreement for the party seeking to nullify or modify the agreement in Colorado is difficult if not impossible.

In most jurisdictions in the United States the key question is “is the agreement complete”. If the agreement is not complete, then extrinsic evidence is admissible. In Colorado the question is mutated to “is the agreement ambiguous”. If no material ambiguity exists, no extrinsic evidence is admissible.

In many business agreements there is an “integration clause” which states that the agreement is the entire agreement between the parties and that the agreement covers all issues which the parties intended in this the final agreement. However, in Colorado, even in the presence of such an integration clause, if ambiguity exists, extrinsic evidence is admissible to explain or help interpret the agreement.

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