The English and “Notify”

Behold this random EDGAR fragment:

The Participants shall procure that their representatives shall comply with all safety procedures notified to the Participants by the Operator which are implemented from time to time by the Operator whilst at the relevant location of Joint Operations.

Yes, of course it’s crappy. But it’s English crappy! The “whilst” is a giveaway. But that’s not what we’re here for. Instead, what caught my eye is “all safety procedures notified to the Participants”.

That’s not how we use notify in Murica. We’d say all safety procedures the Operator notifies the Participants of.

The Oxford English Dictionary has in its definition of notify a 1781 example that expresses this difference:

J. Witherspoon Druid No. v, in J. Pickering New Amer. Acad. Arts & Sci. (1815) III. ii. 499   In [British] English we do not notify the person of the thing, but notify the thing to the person.

So, English readers, is that always the case? Or do you now see in contracts a mix of both usages?

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.