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Wording things differently rarely has any significant legal impact.

(Except in advertising, right?)




Wording things differently very often has significant legal impact, depending on the situation and context.

I have no legal training, but regularly review lengthy legal contracts and discuss them with lawyers, and tiny changes in wording can have huge implications in what they mean.

Outside of legal contracts, many agreements (such as an agreement over email, or even verbal) can be considered legally binding, and so could be affected similarly when it comes to wording.

An example away from contracts (written or otherwise): salesmen and bribing. "I'd like you to buy my company's product, let me take you to an expensive restaurant to discuss the opportunity" is fine (roughly, in some cases and depending on the monetary value of the meal it might be against company policy or in some cases even illegal, but usually fine), vs. "If you buy my company's product I will take you to an expensive restaurant" which isn't fine. (Speaking from experience, having a) had plenty of experience on both sides of the sales table, including being specifically offered bribes and including being "client entertained" including some cases where I couldn't accept even though it would have been legally not considered bribery, and also from the experience of having to write, and enforce, anti-bribery / anti-corruption company policies.)


I was a bit sloppy in my original statement. Yes, if you word a contract differently it will often have a different meaning, that's not really just a rewording, that's a material change. Same with other agreements. The different wording describes different requirements for fulfilling a contract.

An example of what I'm talking about is the difference between gifts and loans. Say you're applying for a mortgage, and I give you $50k as a gift. Sure, you can use that as a down payment. But if I make you agree to pay the $50k "gift" back as a condition, it's not a gift, it's a loan, and calling it a gift is mortgage fraud. No matter how you word it, you can't change a loan into a gift.

Just like with extortion. Extortion is an act, and you can carefully word it all you want, but it doesn't change the fact of extortion, but it may make it easier or more difficult to prove.

But I'm not trying to say something especially deep here, just that it's common for people to look at the language of the law and believe that they can avoid consequences by rewording a few things.




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