Legal Word of the Day: “And / Or”

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“And / Or” — Appears between two or more persons, statements or things in a list.

It can be read either conjunctively (connected) or disjunctively (separating). For example, “A and/or B” can be read as “A and B” or “A or B.”

Robert Dick, in his book Legal Drafting in Plain Language, states that term originated in English mercantile and marine insurance contracts. The Court of Appeal for Ontario supported the conjunctive or disjunctive interpretation in its Export Brewing & Malting Co. v. Dominion Bank (1932) decision where the Court states:

    “… the expression is used in order to avoid a certain amount of circumlocution. Where things or persons, or statements or stipulations are coupled by ‘and/or’ they are ‘to be read either disjunctively or conjunctively’ per Cirns, L.C., in Stanton v. Richardson (1876), 45 L.J.C.P. 78 at p. 82.”

According to some legal writers, the term “and/or” should not be used because it creates ambiguity. Robert Dick addresses its use in Rule 10 of his rules of drafting: “Never use and/or.”

Karen-Fair

Recent paralegal graduate Karen Fair wrote this Legal Word of the Day. Read her case summary, which is also listed at CanLII Connects: ‘Public Interest’ Ground in Recent POA Appeals

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