“Consecutive Months”

[Updated October 1, 2008]

Consider the following provision:

During the term of this agreement and the following 24 consecutive months, the Consultant shall not …

In this context, the word consecutive is redundant. The same applies to use of consecutive with other units of time.

But consider this provision:

The Employee shall spend two months every year in Acme’s Budapest office.

The employee could elect to spend one week a month in the Budapest office each of the first eight months of 2008 and presumably be in compliance with that obligation.

So if you’re referring to a period of time before or after a point in time, consecutive is redundant. But if you’re referring to a period of time within a larger period of time and you want the shorter period of time to be treated as one block, you should use consecutive.

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.

5 thoughts on ““Consecutive Months””

  1. I hope that the only time I use “consecutive months” is in a service level description, where I set some payment or termination option based on something like “failure in (a) any three months in any six-month period or (b) any two consecutive months.” The point there is to emphasize the distinction between the two measurements.


  2. Ken,

    I’m not quite sure I agree with the statement “if you’re referring to a period of time before or after a point in time, consecutive is redundant.”

    Take this provision about interruption in building services in a lease: “If such interruption continues for more than five consecutive days, [Tenant may exercise remedies].”

    I want to avoid the a tenant telling me that the power was out for 3 days, then came back for a day, then was out for 2 more days–so now they can exercise remedies. This concerns me because if I were a tenant, it’s exactly the argument I’d make. I might not make this argument if power were out 3 days in October and another 2 in December. But if the period between power outages were short, I’d make this argument, even if I knew that it was more of an equitable than a technical argument–and a smart landlord would compromise with the tenant on this. The word “consecutive” in this instance helps the landlord avoid this issue.

    Having said this, I agree with you about “consecutive” being redundant. I just think that after writing a clear, well written provision, it is sometimes appropriate to make a conscious decision to add a redundancy, if there is a compelling reason to do so.

  3. Paul: In your example, I think that “continues” tells the reader that the provision applies only in the event of five days of uninterrupted interruption, if you see what I mean. But it’s best not to leave such questions open to interpretation, so perhaps I’d use consecutive. Or I might restructure the provision; it’s hard to say without seeing the entire provision. Ken

  4. I don’t see many posts or comments about provisions relating to time, so I’m putting my comment here in the most nearly related thread.

    In my office, when periods of time such as appeal periods are in question, we often talk about “day zero” and “day one,” as in “the date of issuance of the decision is day zero. The next day is day one of the appeal period.”

    I wonder whether this vernacular might have a useful place in contracts. For example:

    “Doe shall give Roe not less than 20 days Notice of a proposed sale of a Lot. The date of the proposed sale will be [deemed] day zero, and the date of mailing Notice will be [deemed] day 21.”

    That example excludes both terminal days. The terminal days could be easily included by calling the mailing date “day 20” and the sale date “day one.” The point is, either way is pellucid.

    It’s also more compact than saying, “For example, the last day for timely mailing of a Notice of a proposed October 31 sale of a Lot would be October 10.”

    Use of “day zero” nomenclature would make harmless otherwise potentially ambiguous formulations like “no less than 20 days before” or “within 30 days after” a date or event.

  5. I am having difficulty interpreting this sentence:
    If more than five (5) % of any of the Products delivered to XXX are defective under the same root cause, every month or during the period of any six (6) consecutive months, it is then assumed that epidemic failure occurred.

    I am unsure of several things:
    First,in interpreting the or clause,
    Does the defect Need to occur over 5% each and every one of the six months or only that it average over 5 % over a 6 month period ?
    Second is the Products delivered only the product delivered in each month or the Products delivered over the six months or is it all the products ever delivered to XXX ?
    Finally, if no products were delivered in some months are those months part of the consecutive months?
    Thanks for any rationale on how to interpret this language.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.