Where's the ambiguity in this sentence?
by Samuel Jones
Well, it's the second comma. Can the agreement be terminated - with one year's notice - at any point, or just after five years?
It's a question that is exercising the finest legal and grammarian minds across the Pond. The story comes from Canada's Globe and Mail and it relates a legal disagreement between two companies. However, I would argue that the interesting point is not in the comma. More than anything else, that seems a case of grammatical clumsiness. I'm no lawyer, but the case seems to rest on a comparison that is being made between a French and an English version of the contract. You see, there's an ambiguity between two different renditions of the document. The question of linguistic accuracy and is ultimately down to intent. What will be interesting is which one, in the final verdict, will be given precedence.