What’s in a language? (32)

Vandaag delen wij een oefening die wij (bijna) altijd gebruiken in onze trainingen Contract Drafting-Best Practices. De taal die in contracten wordt gebruikt, kan in 10 categorieën
worden verdeeld. Op het moment dat je gewend bent aan die categorieën, wordt het
routine om jezelf aan te leren welke categorie je moet gebruiken bij welke bepalingen. Het maakt het leven van de lezer een stuk makkelijker als de schrijver van een contract bij iedere categorie een apart werkwoord, werkwoordconjugatie of werkwoordconstructie, gebruikt. Bovendien helpt deze benadering de schrijver bij het “framen” van iedere
bepaling. En last, but not least: het vergroot de duidelijkheid en verkleint dus het risico op (juridische) onenigheid.

1. The language of agreement: used to indicate that parties state that they agree with specified contract language. Should be used only once in a contract.

2. The language of performance: used to express actions accomplished by means of
signing the contract. Usually expressed though use of the present tense.

3. The language of obligation: used to state any duty that the contact imposes on one or more of the parties. Usually expressed through ‘shall’ or ‘must’ e.g. The indemnified party must/shall notify the indemnifying party of any claim by a third party. Conditions can also be used to express obligations. NB: use ‘shall’ only to mean: has a duty to.

4. The language of discretion: language stating that a party has the discretion to take or not to take a specified action. Usually expressed through use of ‘may’ or ‘is entitled to’.

5. The language of prohibition: language which specifies what a contract prohibits the parties from doing. Usually expressed through ‘shall not’, ‘must not’ or ‘may not

6. The language of policy: used to express the rules that parties must observe, to state rules that govern something, to address the scope, meaning or duration of a contact (or part of). This is usually expressed through use of the present tense OR ‘will‘ if the policy
relates to future events that might not take place.

7. The language of expressing conditions: used to express future and uncertain events or circumstances on which the existence of some particular legal relation depends. Usually expressed through use of the 0 and 1st conditional.

8. The language of declaration: used to declare facts by means of verbs of speaking e.g. state, acknowledge, etc. Usually expressed through use of the present tense.

9. The language of belief: used when the parties rely on, for example the court to establish certain aspects of the contract e.g. The parties believe that the agreement complies with the law. Their belief in a certain legal position, does not make it so. The court will have to make the determination.

10. The language of intention: used when the parties cannot establish certain facts. They agree to use an independent contractor and they intend for the contractor to be an
independent contractor, but the status of this person would be determined by the courts should it become disputed. Usually expressed through the present tense of ’intend’.

We dagen u uit om uw Engelstalige contracten eens op deze manier op te stellen, of om te kijken of uw eerder geschreven Engelstalige contracten ook zo zijn opgesteld. Als u weet in welke categorie een bepaling valt, kies dan het juiste werkwoord of de juiste werkwoordverbuiging. Veel succes!!

(Met dank aan: Kenneth A. Adams: A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting).

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