A welcome win against excessive technicalities

Biancaniello v. DMCT LLP 2017 ONCA 386

Ontario’s Court of Appeal has struck a welcome blow for wide-ranging general language and against requiring excessive length and specificity in contracts.  The Court decided that clarified that “exceptionally comprehensive” language wasn’t necessarily required to release claims that were unknown at the time the release was signed.

“[T]he language used by the parties in this release was clear and unequivocal in its intent and effect. The Divisional Court did not find the language “exceptionally comprehensive” enough to include the claim that arose. I do not agree. More words would not assist. […] [T]he solution does not lie with more verbiage.” [¶50]

There is often a tendency in judicial decisions to complain about the increasing cost and complexity of modern litigation, whilst simultaneously laying down more demands for ever-more comprehensive language of what can colloquially call, “ah, yes, but you should have also done this” sort of language.  This Biencaniello decision is a very welcome rejection of that tendency.


h/t to Mr. John O’Sullivan for his SLAW article “Ontario Court of Appeal Clarifies Requirements for Releasing Unknown Claims”  which brought this to my attention.


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