“And” and “Or” and Covering a Disparate Group

One of my afflictions is paranoia regarding and and or. (You may recall my deconstruction of a Toronto restroom notice.)

Consider the following:

If a proceeding seeks to compel the Recipient or any of its Representatives to disclose any Confidential Information …

I’m wondering whether one could improve on that formulation—given that or can be inclusive or exclusive, it’s not clear whether the above sentence would cover a proceeding to compel the Recipient and one or more of its Representatives to disclose information. Here’s an alternative:

If a proceeding seeks to compel any one or more of the Recipient and its Representatives to disclose any Confidential Information …

It’s not particularly elegant, but it articulates the intended meaning without any ambiguity. But I don’t know that I care enough about the possible ambiguity to bother with this alternative version.

[Updated 7:45 p.m. EDT: Thank you to the commenters for pointing out that any ambiguity in the first version is benign. I will begin intensive therapy for my and and or paranoia.]

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.