Latent Ambiguity Law and Legal Definition

Latent ambiguity is an ambiguity that does not readily appear on the face of a document. The ambiguity becomes apparent only in the light of knowledge gained from a collateral matter. Extrinsic evidence can be used to clarify latent ambiguities, but not patent ambiguities.

When used in the context of wills, latent ambiguity is an ambiguity which is not discoverable from reading the will, but which appears upon consideration of the extrinsic circumstances.

The following is an example of a case law on latent ambiguity:

A latent ambiguity exists if the meaning of language used in a written agreement becomes uncertain when applied to the subject matter of the contract. The latent ambiguity, however, must become evident when the contract is read in the context of the surrounding circumstances, not after parol evidence of intent is admitted to create an ambiguity. Thus, in determining whether a latent ambiguity exists, courts may examine surrounding circumstances and the subject matter of the contract. [Amigo Broad., LP v. Spanish Broad. Sys., 521 F.3d 472 (5th Cir. 2008)].