August 09, 2006
Costly Drafting Errors
A recent dispute between two Canadian telecommunications companies about an allegedly misplaced comma in a contract has been in the news lately. It's one of those interpretation problems where the comma seems to be in the wrong place, but there's no obvious right place for it.
Contract lawyer and adjunct Penn law professor Ken Adams runs down the dispute (or, I mean, runs down the facts of the dispute) on his Adams Drafting blog. He offers this gem of advice that we ought to keep hammering into our students' heads: "If the meaning of a contract provision could be significantly altered by adding or omitting a comma, you’re probably better off rephrasing it." Adams is the author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.
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