On the great importance of commas

(via Tingilinde)

After mistakenly putting an extra comma in a contract, Rogers Communications, Inc. of Canada may be spending $2+ million extra for use of utility poles in Canada.

It could be the most costly piece of punctuation in Canada.

A grammatical blunder may force Rogers Communications Inc. to pay an extra $2.13-million to use utility poles in the Maritimes after the placement of a comma in a contract permitted the deal’s cancellation.

The controversial comma sent lawyers and telecommunications regulators scrambling for their English textbooks in a bitter 18-month dispute that serves as an expensive reminder of the importance of punctuation.

Rogers thought it had a five-year deal with Aliant Inc. to string Rogers’ cable lines across thousands of utility poles in the Maritimes for an annual fee of $9.60 per pole. But early last year, Rogers was informed that the contract was being cancelled and the rates were going up. Impossible, Rogers thought, since its contract was iron-clad until the spring of 2007 and could potentially be renewed for another five years.

Armed with the rules of grammar and punctuation, Aliant disagreed. The construction of a single sentence in the 14-page contract allowed the entire deal to be scrapped with only one-year’s notice, the company argued.

Language buffs take note — Page 7 of the contract states: The agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

Slightly more information on the story in the full article.  Folks that think grammar and punctuation don’t matter can learn something here.  If you would like to try to get a better grip on this, perhaps you’d benefit from either Lynne Truss’ original book or her latest release?

[tags]On the importance of grammar and punctuation, Watch that comma, Comma costs millions[/tags]