Another Lesson in Purging Contracts of Elegant Variation

Here’s something I said in this 2015 post:

Elegant variation—going out of your way to avoid using the same word or phrase twice—is never a good idea. It’s particularly unfortunate in contract drafting, in which tone plays no part. If you wish to convey the same meaning, use the same word. If you think you’re exploiting shades of meaning by using, say, right away instead of promptly, you’re fooling yourself, as no such distinctions exist among vague words and phrases of that sort.

Similarly, nothing is gained by using in contracts advise or inform instead of notify. In particular, it makes one wonder whether advising or informing someone is the same as notifying them, so that you have to use the means of giving notice specified in a notices provision.

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.