Friday, December 29, 2006

The Telecomma Debate - $Million Punctuation Diddle

A good argument for Plain English in documents if there ever was one!

At the heart of the issue was a single sentence in the contract, which read: “This agreement shall be effective from the date it is made and shall continue in force for a period of five (5) years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five (5) year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

That sentence has since been e-mailed around the world as academics, legal experts, newspapers, radio commentators and students argue over the true intent of the words. Aliant argues the second comma allows it to scrap the 14-page contract, since the termination applied to both the first five years and the subsequent five-year periods.

Well the reality 'As I See It' is that Aliant knew damned well at the outset that the intent was to assure five years of access at the negotiated price and that after the first five years Rogers had the right to renew for an additional five years unless there was a one year notice of cancellation by either party.

What Aliant did was review the text of the document and discover a little grammatical loophole that allowed them to reopen the access cost issue ......clever and disingenuous !

A person would have to be a complete idiot to believe that either party meant anything different at the outset! Enter the courts and the CRTC.............

Well this should be a lesson to all that write contracts to use plain English and forget about the complex, concatenated sentences!


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Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

I'm with u all the way ommag...english and keep it simple (stupid!) NEW YEAR!!

12/29/2006 1:30 p.m.  
Blogger Fergy said...

Usually I keep my mistakes in verbal English down to getting in hot water with my wife. I doubt however the proper use of English would save me from that anyway ;)

12/29/2006 7:17 p.m.  

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