The word provision is used to describe something in a contract, but without being specific—I don’t think you can say it refers to a sentence or to a section.

You can use provision in a contract, usually in the plural. Here are two examples:

any additional shares of Common Stock issued and issuable in connection with any anti-dilution provisions in the Notes or the Warrants

or the consent of whose Holders is required for any waiver of compliance with certain provisions of this Indenture

But usually it’s redundant:

in accordance with the provisions of this Section 4.1.1

so long as Borrower timely complies with each of the provisions in subsections (i)-(v) below:

and to secure compliance with the provisions of this Indenture

as such ADRs may be amended from time to time in accordance with the provisions of the Deposit Agreement

The provisions of this Section 2(b) are [is] subject to (i) the provisions set forth in the Notice of Grant of Stock Options or any employment agreement, consulting agreement or similar agreement

My favorite instance of the redundant provision is the fatous terms and provisions, which is presumably used by those besotted by terms and conditions:

perform and be bound by the terms and provisions of the Intercreditor Agreement

all of the terms and provisions of the Purchase Agreement and the other Transaction Documents shall remain in full force and effect

I also see provisions used in section and article headings. You can always do better:

Other Interpretive Provisions [Interpretation]

Definitions and Other Definitional Provisions

Miscellaneous Provisions

Patent Provisions [Patents]

Cure Provisions

Certain Provisions Relating to Limited Liability Company and Limited Partnership Interests.


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 ““Provisions””

  1. Ken:

    I think you can do the same with the singular, in many cases:

    If any provision of this agreement requires …
    If any of this agreement requires …

    And even then, you might not want to if you want to preserve parallelism:
    If any provision of this agreement is unenforceable as written, then that provision is to be reformed it applicable law permits and …

    I don’t think you can (at least as easily) when “each” or “every” precedes “provision.” Those would require more re-work of the sentence.


    • Chris,

      1/ I agree that a drafter can usually excise the singular ‘provision’ in addition to the plural.

      2/ Why not prefer ‘part’ to ‘provision’ whenever the former will do? ‘Part’ will not do in references to types of provisions — you would say ‘integration provision’, not ‘integration part’, but in many contexts, the conciser ‘part’ will do.

      3/ Sometimes it’s unnecessary to refer to a part or provision at all, as when a reference to to the whole agreement will do, as in ‘if this agreement requires’ (better than ‘if any provision of this agreement requires’).

      4/ This departs from the topic of the post, but hasn’t Ken turned against ‘is to be’ as the tool of choice when trying to tie the hands of an interpreting tribunal?


      • Wright:

        2/ I’ve seen some contracts use “part” to mean something specific like I would normally use “section.” So I was avoiding the issue.

        3/ Yes, I was assuming something after the ellipsis necessitated the “any.” Many, many cases would not even need the “any of.”

        4/ I didn’t have MCSD to hand. (I don;t have a second copy that I carry with me.)


  2. In my class on Chinese Legal Translation, I have long taught that the phrasing “in accordance with the provisions of the Contract” should be shortened to “pursuant to the Contract” or similar. Chinese and Arabic always write “the rules of the Contract/Law” to be more specific (in a high context language), and in Chinese, the word ‘rules’ in a legal context almost always gets translated to “Provisions.” The point however is to make sure your business partner isn’t going out there and breaking the law, and in this case adding the flabby “in accordance with the provisions of the” language simply increases the chance that a busy reader will miss the important point you are trying to make.

    Back in the days when lawyers were paid by the word, I am sure this sort of thing made ample sense for bill-churners, but has no place in today’s ethic of creating value for clients.

    This is an article I plan to show to students, to get them on board with value-centered drafting.

    Adrian Dunbar
    Professor of the Practice of Legal Translation

    Managing Partner

    CBL Translations


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