Overlapping Definitions—A Real Issue?

I recently posted this item discussing Lexicon, a tool for organizing and checking defined terms. Lexicon’s website contains a page discussing “The Seven Deadly Sins of Defined Terms.” Among the sins described is the following:

Overlapping Definitions–When one Defined Term is contained within another, confusion can arise. For example, if (1) “Company,” (2) “Company Promissory Note,” (3) “Guarantee,” and (4) “Promissory Note Guarantee” are all defined, is a subsequent reference to the Company Promissory Note Guarantee a reference to (1) and (4), or does it refer to (2) and (3), or something else altogether?

I haven’t encountered this previously, and I suspect that it’s more of a theoretical issue than a real-world problem. What do you think?

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.