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I love proofreading errors

I love proofreading errors

By LIV Professional Development Department

Communication 

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Grammar and proofreading errors can be costly and in legal matters the stakes can be even higher. Take the case of the costly comma.

An extra comma cost a cable television provider plenty, when it lost a court case in a contract dispute with a telephone company.

This was due to the inclusion of the second comma in the line of the contract which stated that the agreement "shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party."

Though the cable television company believed the first five years of the deal were secured, the inclusion of the second comma changed the meaning of the sentence, which allowed the telephone company to terminate the contract at any time with one year's notice.

And then there was the US case where a judge reduced a lawyer’s request for fees due to the the fact his filed documents were littered with typos. In defense of this issue the lawyer in question wrote the following:

''Had the defendants not tired to paper plaintiff's counsel to death, some type would not have occurred. Furthermore, there have been omissions by the defendants, thus they should not case stones.'' [sic]

The judge found in this case that the lawyer’s prose was  “'vague, ambiguous, unintelligible, verbose and repetitive.'' And that his “complete lack of care in his written product shows disrespect for the court… [his] lack of care caused the court and, I am sure, defense counsel, to spend an inordinate amount of time deciphering the arguments.''

These are just a few examples of why all lawyers must take considerable care with their documents. Some top tips to avoid simple typographical and grammatical errors include:

·  Don’t try to proofread for everything at once. Make one pass looking at names only, then do another one looking at only numbers.

·  Try changing the look of your document – tricking your brain into thinking it’s seeing an unfamiliar document can help you get a different perspective on what you have written.

·  Know and keep a list of errors you make often so that you know what to look for in your documents.

·  Read your document backwards to help pick up typos.

 


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