“The Date Notified”

Here’s an odd little usage: the date notified. I first saw it in section of the FIDIC contract I discussed in this post (emphasis added):

“Commencement Date” means the date notified under Sub-Clause 8.1.

Here are some other examples from that den of iniquity, the SEC’s EDGAR system:

Each Lender shall make available to the applicable Issuing Bank an amount equal to its respective participation, in Dollars and in same day funds, at the office of such Issuing Bank specified in such notice, not later than 12:00 p.m. on the first Business Day … after the date notified by such Issuing Bank.

“First Hand Date” means the date notified in writing by CIE to 888 upon which the first hand of poker is played for real money on the Platform.

If the Parties agree in writing to change the deadline for satisfaction of the Conditions Precedent to the revised date notified by Seller or another later date, such revised date shall be deemed the CP Deadline for all purposes of this Agreement.

Here’s my take on this. One uses the date notified as part of a passive-voice construction. To put the date notified in writing by CIE to 888 (using the second of the examples immediately above) in the active voice, you’d say *the date that CIE notified in writing to 888. That’s obviously ungrammatical: you notify someone, you don’t notify a date. (Hence the asterisk—that’s how The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language flags ungrammatical examples.) That problem is masked somewhat when you use the passive voice, as the passive voice switches the normal order of things.

I’d say instead, the date that CIE specifies by notice to 888. (I got rid of the reference to a written notice, as the notices provision should say that notices have to be in writing. Mind you, that definition has other problems, so I’d make other changes too.)  And I’d make an analogous change in each of the other examples.

You could say instead the date that CIE notifies 888 of, but in this context, at least, it’s a bit awkward, with the preposition lurking at the end.

The moral of this story is never use the date notified.

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.

3 thoughts on ““The Date Notified””

  1. Ken:

    I was going to disagree with you. I was going to say that I could see some use for the term and that your objection to it was primarily grammatical when proper grammar is not always required for clear communication. So, for example, if you had a context in which there were two dates and one was a date set by notice, I could see saying the “date notified” consistently. (I probably wouldn’t. I’d probably define a term like “that termination date” or “that start date” or something. But I could see a possibility.)

    But then I read your examples. The fact that they all amount to a passive voice construction that uses a by-agent really destroys any utility I could have hypothesized. Assuming that these are representative, I can’t see ever wanting to do anything along the same lines.


  2. I was going to say that I have only ever (and unfortunately often) seen such a construction in bad translations from French. And in fact that might explain the FIDIC example (or alternatively, EU drafting English)… However, the SEC examples clearly do not owe their origin to the French verb notifier, so your point is well worth making.


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