Do not write(s) and avoid /

This blog is about a simple writing principle: a sentence contains one subject, always with a verb. It is so simple that many contract drafters seem to believe that it is not a mistake to write something like “the lawyer(s) enjoy(s) discretionary freedom to clarify his/her/their contract by addressing all options at once.” Give me a break.

Some drafters add (s) to the singular noun in order to ascertain that a given context may involve more than one of the given item. They add it to a verb as well, for obvious reasons. Avoid adding this (s) and everything that it triggers. If uncertainty (if any) needs to be addressed, provide in the interpretation article that:

References to words importing the singular shall include the plural and vice versa.

Alternative. If omitting the (s) truly entails an undesired uncertainty in a particular provision, use one or more. In a previous blog (click here) I advised that the general approach should be, if possible, that obligations and other provisions be drafted in the singular, using the present tense. Accordingly, instead of The Parties shall promptly notify each other of the occurrence of events of force majeure, you would more likely avoid ambiguities if you write A Party shall promptly notify the other Party of the occurrence of an event of force majeure.

No slash. Never use the slash (” / “), unless it is part of an existing name, trademark or reference. Instead, use and or or (and respectively if applicable).

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