“Et Seq.”

Can’t we do better than et seq.?

Here’s the Black’s Law Dictionary definition:

et seq. (et sek) abbr [Latin et sequens “and the following one,” et sequentes (masc.) “and the following ones,” or et sequentia (neuter) “and the following ones”] (18c) And those (pages or sections) that follow <11 USCA §§ 101 et seq.>.

And here’s an example from EDGAR:

… including but not limited to any claims under (1) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §621 et seq., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”), 29 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq., the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, M.G.L. c.151B, § 1 et seq. (or any equivalent in the State of New York), the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, M.G.L. c.12, §§ 11H and 11I, the Massachusetts Equal Rights Act, M.G.L. c.93, § 102 and M.G.L. c.214, § 1C, the Massachusetts Labor and Industries Act, M.G.L. c.149, § 1 et seq., and the Massachusetts Privacy Act, M.G.L. c.214, § 1B (or any equivalents in the State of New York) , the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., all as amended (“Claims”).

Although if you want to be really classy, you’d put it in italics, like some contracts on EDGAR do. (I’m joking.)

I have three problems with et seq. First, it has that fusty Latin thing going. Second, saying “and the stuff that follows” seems unhelpfully vague. And third, it clogs up the works. So I issued a cry for help on Twitter, and received the following reply from @PaoloPasicolan:

Sounds good to me. But if you’re not referring to part of a statute, how about just saying, for example, “the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act,” without saying where it’s codified? It’s not as if there are two WARN Acts. (Whether you’re referring to the statute as in effect at signing or at any given time is a different issue.)

I’d be pleased to hear from someone knowledgeable about legislation.

Updated 9:45 a.m. EDT 18 March 2017:

For what it’s worth, Bluebook rule 3.3(b) says, “When citing multiple sections, use two section symbols (§§). Give inclusive numbers; do not use ‘et seq.'”

Updated 9:30 a.m. EDT 30 March 2017:

I wanted to hear from someone who, unlike me, actually knows something about statutes, so I contacted Tobias A. Dorsey, author of Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide. Here’s what he had to say:

I am not at all a fan of cumbersome information and Bluebook-type bureaucratic rules dreamed up by law students. I like your idea of just using the name of the Act, unless of course a more precise citation is really useful under the circumstances. It all comes down to being reader-friendly, at least from a legislative drafting perspective.

My thanks to Toby for chiming in. As far as I’m concerned, that settles it: no only does et seq. belong on the scrapheap, you shouldn’t cite statute section numbers unless you have a good reason for doing so.

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 ““Et Seq.””

  1. “and the following paragraphs/subsections/sections/parts/chapters/whatever”. Or refer specifically to the relevant range of sections: “sections 78 to 98” (with an “inclusive” if you are paranoid). But any other formulation is likely to be considerably longer. “Et seq.” is short and sweet, like “etc.” and “i.e.” and “e.g.” and “et al.”.

  2. I’m with Paolo on this one. Citing sections is fine in a brief, but not in a contract. Just go with the statutory title if it has one (and almost any statute that would figure in a contract has got one). If you mean one or more specific sections, cite them either to the statute or the chapter (I find myself needing to do the latter more for state than federal laws). Apart from the inconvenience of finding out what the last section of a statute is for purposes of citing its sections inclusively, there’s a risk that if you cite them for the statute at the time of the contract, they might change later on, so you create a source of confusion relating to the “as amended” issue; best not to go there.

  3. I don’t like ‘ff.’, but it responds at least in part to all three objections: (1) It’s not Latin; (2) It applies when no final section number can be ‘usefully given’ (in other words, when the vagueness–or really incompleteness–doesn’t matter); (3) It’s 4/7 less clutter.

    Stepping back, ‘et seq.’ is a compromise between giving less information (just ‘the Family and Medical Leave Act’) and more information (the title plus the Act’s whole range of sections). The idea is ‘The Family and Medical Leave Act, which starts at 29 U.S.C. § 2601’. Title plus starting section: useful datums both.

    If the task were set as finding a conciser way to express ‘which starts at’, maybe a good solution would emerge.

    How about ‘beg.’, short for ‘beginning at’? ‘The Family and Medical Leave Act, beg. 29 U.S.C. § 2601’.

    • “ff”? No.

      What’s the problem with less information? Do you think the employee is going to be guided by a statute section number? And if you think section numbers are important, go all in. All it takes is the ending section number.

      I’m all for spitballing (as they used to say), but it seems unpromising to invent a new citation convention in a context that doesn’t require a convention at all.


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