Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Not to be a pedant or anything, but ...

Clinton’s Christmas card sent to (valued) clients this year.

Clintons Christmas CardClintons, based in London, “is one of the foremost law practices in entertainment, sport and media, with an extensive general practice.”

Hat tip to Legal Cheek.

Thank God - a law firm with a timely sense of humour at Christmas!  Good stuff.  It makes a pleasant change from all the shallow yuletide philanthropy that firms are so desperate to be seen doing.

Anyhoo, not to be a dick pedant or anything, but I have a problem with striking out “new year” and amending it with “12 (twelve) months from the date hereof” because it could materially change the meaning from that which was intended.

When you wish someone a “happy new year”, convention dictates that you are wishing them well for the forthcoming new calendar year - whether for the first few days of it or for its entirety.

This is borne out by the OED which provides:

new year” noun
  • the calendar year just begun or about to begin:Happy New Year!
    • the first few days or weeks of a year:the band is playing at Wembley in the new year

Amending the words to “a happy 12 (twelve) months from the date hereof” would mean that the sender’s good wishes would expire 12 months from the date of the card. (This assumes it was dated; it would cause considerable problems if it wasn’t).  We don’t know how the card is being delivered here (and let’s not open that particularly ugly can of worms by speculating), so let’s just say that the card was dated 12th December 2012 and delivered (via whatever method) 2 business days* after that.  Accordingly, in this example, the good wishes would end on 12th December 2013.

* “means any day which is not a Saturday, a Sunday or a bank or public holiday in England.”

Given that Christmas cards are written and exchanged well before the end of December (save for those sent by the tardy and the forgetful) adopting the suggested amendment would mean that the good wishes would cease before 2013 had ended (in my example, they would end some 19 days too early).

It seems to me that the simplest way of rectifying this would be to expressly state the calendar year in question (“2013”).  After all, you might not feel inclined to wish the recipient a happy new calendar year in 12 months’ time, so any further good wishes should be subject to a new card being sent.

If, however, the sender intended “new year” to mean only the first few days of the new calendar year, that should be expressly stated.  (There’s no substitution for specificity, after all).

Remember children, using words which are unclear in conjunction with the phrase “for the avoidance of doubt” will almost certainly negate any clarification it was intended to provide.  Sorry - life’s tough like that.
Personally, I’d like to see “festive period” capitalised and defined appropriately, too.  Be right back

Wait!  I’ve not over-thought this, have I?  Eye rolling smile


  1. You know, this is giving me flashbacks to the moments when I've been asked for help finding guidance on how to calculate periods of time.... *screams*


  2. Ah - the horrors of it... it brings all fee earners out in hives. ;-)

  3. But is it the date of sending (mailbox rule in the US) or date of receipt?

  4. That's a can of worms I deliberately left unopened! ;-)

    If it wasn't dated, I think it would be the date it was received. I don't know how closely the US mailbox rule mirrors the English postal rule, but as far as I know, our version only applies to documents sent as an acceptance of an offer (which this isn't). :-\

  5. You know, there's a longer version of that card too:
    From us ("the wishors") to you ("hereinafter called the wishee"):
    Please accept without obligation, explicit or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practice of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions.

    Please also accept, under aforesaid waiver of obligation on your part, our best wishes for a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of this calendar year of the Common Era, but with due respect for the calendars of all cultures or sects, and for the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform or dietary preference of the wishee.

    By accepting this greeting you acknowledge that:

    This greeting is subject to further clarification or withdrawal at the wishor's discretion.

    This greeting is freely transferable provided that no alteration shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged.

    This greeting implies no warranty on the part of the wishors to fulfill these wishes, nor any ability of the wishors to do so, merely a beneficent hope on the part of the wishors that they in fact occur.

    This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and/or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wishors.
    This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings, for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first.

    The wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishor.

    Any references in this greeting to "the Lord", "Father Christmas", "Our Saviour", or any other festive figures, whether actual or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect of this greeting, and all proprietary rights in any referenced third party names and images are hereby acknowledged.

    [PS - Looks different around here. You've had a makeover since I last visited ;-) ]

  6. Asp - it's good to see you're back. :-)