In Mopani Copper Mines v Millennium Underwriting (see Weekly Update 25/08), Clarke J concluded, after reviewing the relevant caselaw authority, that in general it is illegitimate to look at deleted words, except where (a) the deleted words resolve an ambiguity in a neighbouring paragraph or (b) the deleted words show what it is the parties agreed that they did not agree and there is ambiguity in the words which remain.

In this case, the parties had deleted certain words which normally appear in a standard wording. The judge held that "to the extent that recourse to deleted words is permissible, care must be taken as to what inferences, if any, may properly be drawn. Here of course, the position is that the parties chose to agree a clause wholly different from the standard wording ….It is relevant background at least".