Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bullstrode's Legal French Phrasebook: Dépeçage

Dépeçage means dismemberment, which is in turn derived from the verb dépecer, which means to carve up or to analyse in extraordinary detail.

This term is principally used in two (2) ways in a legal context:

1) As a description for every single oral and written submission every put by T Bullstrode Whitelocke KC. For example ‘Mr Whitelocke, I am not sure that a fourth day of surrejoinder is necessary for this directions hearing. To be frank, your ferocious depecage of the defendant’s proposed timetable, whilst showing admirable stamina, has left me longing for my 7oth birthday.’; and

2) To described the common law concept whereby different provisions within a single contract are expressed to be governed by different laws. I have used Dépeçage in this way extensively in all my drafting and find it leads to greatly enhanced outcomes for my clients.

I pioneered this concept when I drafted the ISDA standard documentation, which now regularly sees the ISDA Master Agreement governed by New York State Law while the credit support annexe is governed by English law.

After the success of this innovation I now use Dépeçage in all contracts as follows:

i) I typically use Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch to govern my recitals;

ii) I have been known to rely on Scots Law to govern the operative provisions, except, of course, for any clauses relating to the doctrine of marshalling, which I ensure are governed by the Napoleonic Civil Code, Delaware Law or Halakha;

iii) I will use non-legal laws, such as the law of diminishing returns or the Hicks-Marshall laws of derived demand, in sensitive or confidential contractual provisions (for example, in a particularly cheeky move I employed when negotiating Eddie Maguire’s employment contract with Channel Nine, I provided for various provisions to be governed by the laws of gravity); and

iv) for all boiler plate clauses (including governing law provisions), I will only apply Papuan Customary law.

I have also been known to hand annotate standard form contracts, including dry cleaning tickets and the large poster displaying the terms and conditions for entry to my local car parking station, to ensure that the consumer friendly laws of the Cayman Islands apply at all times.

As you can imagine, this is yet another of my legal innovations which has greatly enhanced and simplified contract law for businesses in Australia.

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