Cardinal or Ordinal numbers in legal English?
Thread poster: Reed James

Reed James
Chile
Local time: 03:00
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Nov 20, 2006

Hello. I am curious to know if it is more common in contracts for clauses to be numbered cardinally: One, Two, Three, or ordinally:
One, Two, Three. Any preferences? Thanks.

Reed


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:00
Dutch to English
+ ...
Cardinals in EN (e.g. Clause Eleven - Jurisdiction) Nov 20, 2006

Reed D. James wrote:

Hello. I am curious to know if it is more common in contracts for clauses to be numbered cardinally: One, Two, Three, or ordinally:
One, Two, Three. Any preferences? Thanks.

Reed


Hi Reed,

You mean the headings - One, Two, Three (cardinal) vs. First, Second, Third (ordinal), right?

Normal rule (this side of the Atlantic, at least = UK) - is to use cardinals.

I'm not aware of any different convention for the US or other EN-speaking countries, e.g. South Africa, where I've practised

So:

Clause One - Purpose (and not First Clause - Purpose, as would be the case if written in PT for example)

Clause Twenty - Applicable Law, etc

Not unusual for Article to be used instead of Clause this side either.

Hope this helps
D



[Edited at 2006-11-20 17:30]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:00
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Convention in Scotland Nov 20, 2006

Hi Reed,

At the time when I was a legal secretary in Scotland (which is some years ago now), the convention appeared to be "Clause First", "Clause Second", "Clause Third" and so on.

As far as I can make out, this convention is not, however, prevalent outside Scotland.

Astrid

P.S. Pages were numbered in that way as well. Instead of writing "- 2 -", for example, at the top of the second page, it was customary to write out "Page Second".

[Edited at 2006-11-20 19:03]


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:00
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Numbering in Legal English Nov 22, 2006

When translating into English I always translate in cardinal numbers, even though the Portuguese language confusingly uses ordinal numbers until 9 and cardinals from then on:
Artigo 9º (Artigo Nono) is followed by Artigo 10 (Artigo Dez) in Portuguese!
I use "article" or "clause" depending on the form used in the original, respectively "artigo" and "cláusula".


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