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Legal English: Practicing & Drafting Contracts

Monday 12 June 2017
Old Observatory
Sterrenwachtlaan 11
2311 GW Leiden

Fortunately, the life of the contract is often all roses: parties enter into agreements, lay these agreements down in a legal document (agreement or contract) and live up to their side of the contract. The contract dies as peacefully as it was born.

However, sometimes that life is less rosy, for instance when parties disagree on what they have agreed on, or on when the contract came into being, or if one the parties does not meet their end of the bargain. The life of the contract is also complicated if it has to be translated into another language, especially if that language is English. Fundamental differences between Dutch law on the one hand and that of England and its former colonies lead to mistranslation and misunderstanding. In the worst case, it's "see you in court!".

In this workshop we will familiarize ourselves with the most important differences between the life a Common-law contract and that of a Dutch overeenkomst. We will see that some problems already occur at conception: English and Dutch lawyers may have very different ideas about when a contract comes into being. This means that contract as an English translation for Dutch contract may already be problematic. And that claim for performance (vordering tot nakoming), surely that's a translation problem?

After a thorough introduction to the terminological differences between Dutch and English contract law, we will deal with some of the linguistic problems involved in the drafting of contracts such as how to structure contracts, how to avoid ambiguity, how to write definition clauses, how to lay down obligations. You are welcome to raise problems that arise in your own drafting.

Finally, we will try our hand at writing contract clauses in English. Our starting-point will be the contracts that you, the participant, have volunteered from your everyday practice.

Cursusmateriaal: Foster, T. (2016). Life of the Contract [Reader met achtergrondteksten, terminologielijsten en opdrachten].

Legal English: Practicing & Drafting Contracts

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