Pronoun usage in Terms of Service agreements?

Subject: Pronoun usage in Terms of Service agreements?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Thomas Bilbo'" <TBilbo -at- round1 -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 13:34:40 -0400

Thomas Bilbo wonders: <<Has anyone written Terms of Service Agreements
before? Is it ok to use pronouns in them (we, ours, etc.)? Since I'm not a
lawyer, I don't have that much experience in legalese.>>

I'm not sure precisely what one of these is, but it sounds suspiciously
legalistic. That being the case, try to limit your role to identifying the
salient factors that you must include in the agreement and writing down what
you'd like to accomplish for each factor. Then insist on turning the
document over to a lawyer to get it rewritten so that it's legally valid. I
think of myself as a word person (after 15 years in the business), but
having reviewed legal documents in the past, I've more than adequately
convinced myself that I'm entirely incompetent at writing and validating
such things. Law is another language entirely, despite a superficial
resemblance to English, and unless you're a lawyer, don't fool yourself into
considering yourself competent to write in this (very) foreign language.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer




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