Bell v. Bruen
42 U.S. 169

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bell v. Bruen, 42 U.S. 1 How. 169 169 (1843)

Bell v. Bruen

42 U.S. (1 How.) 169


A letter of guarantee, written in the United States, and addressed to a house in England, must be construed according to the laws of that country.

Extrinsic evidence may be used to ascertain the true import of such an agreement, and its construction is matter of law for the court.

In bonds, with conditions for the performance of duties, preceded by recitals, the undertaking, although general in its terms, is limited by the recital.

Commercial letters are not to be construed upon the same principles as bonds, but ought to receive a fair and reasonable interpretation according to the true import of the terms, to what is fairly to be presumed to have been the understanding of the parties, and the presumption is to be ascertained from the facts and circumstances accompanying the entire transaction.

The court will not express an opinion upon a matter of defense which was not brought to the consideration of the court below.

Page 42 U. S. 170

The plaintiffs in this Court, who were also plaintiffs below, were merchants and partners, trading under the name and firm of Bell & Grant, and resided in London. The action was brought to recover the value of five several sets of bills of exchange, amounting respectively to

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