“Anyone” (File Under “Corporations Are People!”)

Anyone, anyone?

The online periodical Business Law Today will soon unleash on an unsuspecting world an article I co-authored. It includes the following snippet of contract language: “anyone commences an involuntary case against the Company …”

Does anyone apply only to individuals? Or does it also apply to entities? In other words, we’re in effect faced with the question raised in the political oddity featured in the video below: Are corporations people?

If you’re dealing with only entities, then anyone wouldn’t be the appropriate choice. But if the population in question could include persons and entities, I’m comfortable with using anyone. Contract prose would get too dreary if you had to always use any person or entity or the defined term Person.

Could a disgruntled contract party claim that a provision using anyone isn’t triggered if a company is involved rather than an individual? Sure. But people can make all sorts of crazy claims. The goal of the drafter is to leave a disgruntled contract party with only the most fatuous. I currently think that use of anyone satisfied that standard, but I could be persuaded otherwise.

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.