Globalizing Legal Drafting: What the Chinese Can Teach Us About Ejusdem Generis and All that

The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, p. 41, 2007

10 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013  

Preston M. Torbert

University of Chicago Law School; Peking University School of Transnational Law; Baker & McKenzie

Date Written: February 28, 2004

Abstract

This article provides one example of how experience with another language (Chihnese) and legal system (the Chinese legal system) can help improve the drafting of contracts in English that are governed by American law. The article describes the author's experience in drafting and negotiating English-Chinese bilingual contracts for which the challenge is to ensure that both texts are consistent. One difficulty occurs when the language is equivalent, but the legal effect is different. An example of this is enumerations to which the interpretive canon ejusdem generis is often applied in English. But the Chinese language and the Chinese legal system do not have the concept of ejusdem generis. The article sugggests a method by which this discrepancy between the two texts can be overcome. It then concludes by noting that this method can be used in English-only legal documents to create a global drafting style that can avoid ambiguity and make these documents more accurate and transparent.

Keywords: globalization, legal drafting, contract drafting, Chinese, ejusdem generis, canons of interpretation, class presumption

Suggested Citation

Torbert, Preston M., Globalizing Legal Drafting: What the Chinese Can Teach Us About Ejusdem Generis and All that (February 28, 2004). The Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, p. 41, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2263387

Preston M. Torbert (Contact Author)

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
(312) 861-8179 (Phone)

Peking University School of Transnational Law ( email )

University Town,
Xili, Nanshan District
Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055
China

Baker & McKenzie ( email )

300 East Randolph Street
Suite 5000
Chicago, IL 60601-6225
United States
(312) 861-8179 (Phone)

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