“Personal Delivery”?

Periodically I inflict on you my musings regarding notices-provisions terminology. (See this August 2009 AdamsDrafting blog post on why I’ve opted for “national transportation company,” and see this March 2009 AdamsDrafting blog post on why I refer to “fax.”) Well, it’s now time for me to address another such cataclysmic issue.

I’ve never been crazy about the phrase “personal delivery.” It’s a bureaucratic abstract-noun take on the idiomatic “deliver in person” and “deliver personally.” Those phrases convey that the author of a bit of correspondence will be the one to deliver it. For purposes of contract notices, that doesn’t make much sense. For one thing, if the person entering into the contract is a legal entity, it won’t be capable of delivering anything personally. And even if the contract party is an individual, it’s not necessarily the case that he or she would be the one dropping off a notice at Acme’s offices.

Instead, what the phrase “personal delivery” seeks to convey is that a contract party may make its own informal arrangements for delivery rather than delegating the task to a transportation company. I suggest that the phrase “deliver by hand” expresses that meaning more clearly.

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.