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  1. Just Joined
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    #1

    An english question that looks like a legal one

    Hi,

    I’d be grateful for help for what, on first glance may appear to be a legal question, but I believe that its essence is an English question.

    I was recently involved in a court case where a contract used the phrase "deal must be effected by themselves". The phrase referred to the conditions under which someone would be entitled to a commission.

    The judge said that if the clause had said "must be effected by themselves ONLY", it c be accepted that the contracted person had to effect a deal on their own and without the assistance of anyone else to receive a commission, but that without the word “only”, it would refer to any deal done by the person, irrespective of if they did the deal on their own or not.

    It has since been contended that the judge's preferred statement represents tautology in English. Does the phrase mean “on their own and without the assistance of anyone else” without the added “only”?

    What do you think?

    Craig.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: An english question that looks like a legal one

    I would say that "the deal must be effected by themselves" means simply that they have to be involved in the deal. I'm not convinced that "only" would help. If it said "alone", I would argue that it means the contracted person must do it without any assistance.

    However, it must be noted that I am not an expert on legalese.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Key Member
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    #3

    Re: An english question that looks like a legal one

    In many sales situations, a salesperson will spend a lot of time with a prospect working out the details before getting to closing- the actual signing of papers that secures the legal standing of the contract. Often, this work away from the sales office. I once worked at a place where there were 3-4 salesmen that came to the office each morning but spent most of their day out with clients. They would work and work with them to get to an agreement, but if the client happened to come in to the office and close with the boss, the salesman would not get the commission. Yeah, that boss was a real sweetheart...

    So, without further context, I would read your quotation as meaning that the commission might have to be shared with others involved in contract negotiations- even persons whose compensation may not be directly effected by the sale (they don't work on commissions).

  4. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #4

    Re: An english question that looks like a legal one

    This strikes me as a legal question rather than a language question, concerning whether, for instance, agents could be considered to be included in the term themselves. There was a big law case in the UK about such a thing, where one party tried to rely on a French translation of the legal text to restrict the meaning, if I remember right. I am not a lawyer, but I think that the judge may have a legal point even if the rest of us would come to a different conclusion.

  5. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: An english question that looks like a legal one

    It means what the judge says it means.

  6. teechar's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: An english question that looks like a legal one

    Get yourself a good lawyer, and even consider an appeal. Some lawyers accept cases on a no-win-no-fee basis. Is the judiciary in South Africa honest?

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