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Dire contract drafting criticized by judge

[16 July 2016] In December 2015, a High Court judge had to decide whether service providers were in breach of a contract worth £160 million, triggering its termination clause.

He said: ‘The situation cannot have been assisted by the fact that the Agreement is, as a document, very hard to work with, including by reason of its impractical length, and the imprecision in some of its drafting. It runs to several lever arch files without that length providing clarity in return. Its oversight and governance arrangements proved inadequate for all parties when things started to go wrong.’

This is also an example of a judge finding a calm tone persuasive in argument. The judgment mentions a winning party’s ‘submissions to which I pay particular tribute because of their measured tone and analytical rigour’. BT Cornwall Ltd v Cornwall Council, [2015] EWHC 3755 (Comm), 21 December 2015. View the case here.

Thanks to Daphne Perry of ClarifyNow, for this story. To get Daphne’s regular emails on plain language in the law, write to

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