Friday, May 16, 2014

Legal Jargon

The Gherkin in London was recently put into receivership, and predictably, newspapers had a field day with headline puns (financial pickle, salad days over, etc.)

Last week the High Court delivered a judgment on the interpretation of the loan facility agreement used to finance the purchase of the Gherkin. Justice Flaux mercifully steered clear of gherkin puns, but slipped in a sentence which brings some hope to me and others in my line of work who have, late at night, sweated over a seemingly incomprehensible clause in a facility agreement:
In lengthy commercial contracts of this kind there will often be words or phrases which are surplusage or which have no obvious meaning. [emphasis supplied]
To give credit where it's due, the law firm where I work discourages the use of jargon in drafting. When I was a trainee, we were told, "The only excuse for using Latin in a memo to a client is if your client is an ancient Roman."

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