2020 Georgia Code
Title 24 - Evidence
Chapter 3 - Parol Evidence
§ 24-3-4. Circumstances Surrounding Execution of Contracts

Universal Citation: GA Code § 24-3-4 (2020)

The surrounding circumstances shall always be proper subjects of proof to aid in the construction of contracts.

(Code 1981, §24-3-4, enacted by Ga. L. 2011, p. 99, § 2/HB 24.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Supplementing Written Agreements: Restating the Parol Evidence Rule in Terms of Credibility and Relative Fault," see 34 Emory L.J. 93 (1985).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1863, § 3727, former Code 1868, § 3751, former Code 1873, § 3804, former Code 1882, § 3804, former Civil Code 1895, § 5205, former Civil Code 1910, § 5792, former Code 1933, § 38-505, and former O.C.G.A. § 24-6-4 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

When former statute applied.

- Former statute applied only if a contract was of doubtful meaning; but a plain and unambiguous contract cannot be contradicted by parol. Ward v. Campbell, 73 Ga. 97 (1884) (decided under former Code 1882, § 3804); Kellos v. Parker-Sharpe, Inc., 245 Ga. 130, 263 S.E.2d 138 (1980);(decided under former Code 1933, § 38-505).

Ambiguities are explainable by the surrounding circumstances. Armistead v. McGuire, 46 Ga. 232 (1872) (decided under former Code 1868, § 3751); National Manufacture & Stores Corp. v. Dekle, 48 Ga. App. 515, 173 S.E. 408 (1934);(decided under former Code 1933, § 38-505).

When the language of the written instrument may be fairly understood in more ways than one, it should be taken in the sense put upon it by the parties at the time of its execution, and the court will hear evidence as to the facts and surroundings. National Manufacture & Stores Corp. v. Dekle, 48 Ga. App. 515, 173 S.E. 408 (1934) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-505); Irwin v. Young, 212 Ga. 1, 90 S.E.2d 22 (1955);(decided under former Code 1933, § 38-505).

Circumstances accompanying making of note.

- Parol evidence was admissible to show the circumstances under which notes were made, and to explain the consideration and show the year in which the consideration appearing on the face of the notes was actually advanced. Anderson v. Brown, 72 Ga. 713 (1884) (decided under former Code 1882, § 3804); Camp v. Matthews, 143 Ga. 393, 85 S.E. 196 (1915);(decided under former Civil Code 1910, § 5792).

Admissibility of parol evidence of site plan to show nonexistence of use restriction.

- In a land use restriction action, a trial court erred by failing to consider a 1997 site plan, which allowed the parties to seek to amend the use of the land at issue and future development of the land; therefore, the trial court erred in enjoining a developer from constructing condominium towers since no such use restriction existed. CPI Phipps, LLC v. 100 Park Ave. Partners, L.P., 288 Ga. App. 614, 654 S.E.2d 690 (2007), cert. denied, No. S08C0618, 2008 Ga. LEXIS 286 (Ga. 2008) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-6-4).

Improper admission.

- If surrounding circumstances were improperly admitted, it was harmless error since substantially the same facts had already been established by the evidence of the plaintiff. Wells v. Gress, 118 Ga. 566, 45 S.E. 418 (1903) (decided under former Civil Code 1895, § 5205).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 17A Am. Jur. 2d, Contracts, § 351 et seq. 29A Am. Jur. 2d, Evidence, §§ 1112, 1150, 1151.


- Parol evidence rule; right to show fraud in inducement or execution of written contract, 56 A.L.R. 13.

Competency of parol evidence to vary, contradict, or add to terms of ticket or token issued by carrier for transportation or accommodation of passenger, 62 A.L.R. 655.

"Contractual" consideration as regards parol evidence rule, 100 A.L.R. 17.

Admissibility of parol evidence to show that a bill or note was conditional, or given for a special purpose, 105 A.L.R. 1346.

Admissibility of subsequent declarations of settlor to aid interpretation of trust, 51 A.L.R.2d 820.

Admissibility of evidence of value or extent of decedent's estate in action against estate for reasonable value of services furnished decedent, 65 A.L.R.2d 945.

Admissibility of oral evidence to show that a writing was a sham agreement not intended to create legal relations, 71 A.L.R.2d 382.

Admissibility of parol evidence to connect signed and unsigned documents relied upon as memorandum to satisfy statute of frauds, 81 A.L.R.2d 991.

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