In a recent Alberta judgment the court invoked the principle of contra proferentum to reject the application of an exception to coverage for loss of cargo from a truck while unattended. The key provision required that coverage would be extended to such losses “subject to such trucks having all their openings closed, securely locked and all keys removed…”.

On the facts, the trucker had in secured the truck but had left the keys to the power unit under the mat or on the floor of the locked cab. Underwriters claimed that the keys were not ‘removed’ and denied coverage.

The Court found that the phrase was ambiguous as to whether keys had to be removed from the locks, or from the vicinity of the truck entirely. Relying on the principle of contra proferentum – that he who drafts a contract must have any ambiguity interpreted strictly against him – the Court held that the underwriters could not enforce the provision and the cargo interest was able to recover.

421205 Alberta Ltd. (c.o.b. Shroeder Transport) v Lloyd’s Underwriters, [2011] A.J. No. 311