Why You Spell Out Amounts in Agreement
by Michael Fox
Since I try to avoid legalese where ever possible and eliminate as much unnecessary verbiage from agreements I prepare, I frequently look at the spelling out of dollar amounts, followed by the numerical sum in parentheses, "ten thousand dollars, ($10,000.00), and wonder if we couldn't just eliminate one of those.
But then I see a story like, JPMorgan Sued by Trader Over $3 Million Decimal Point, where there is a difference of opinion as to whether an investment banker was hired for a salary of 2.4 million rand as JP Morgan argues, or 24 million rand, as apparently the contract actually reads.
Since that's almost a million dollars difference ($920,000 according to the Bloomberg article) it seems likely that the banker might have known it was the lower figure, but to see who prevails we will have to wait and see how the British court rules.
One thing however, the next time I consider dropping the writing out of the amount in question, followed by a parenthetical re-stating of the amount; I will certainly give even less thought to dropping one or the other than I have in the past.
Update (3.26.12): Some proof reader at JP Morgan is likely breathing a sigh of relief as the British Judge trying this case ruled in favor of JP Morgan today. See Bloomberg's coverage here. And in something that happens over the pond, but not here at home, the employee who brought the suit not only will get nothing, but in fact will have to pay 85,000 British pounds. And no, there's no misplaced decimal there.