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I've noticed a number of legal documents recently (FastMail's ToS, Apple's Developer Agreement, etc.) which include a "Language" section containing more or less the following:

It is the express will of the parties that this agreement and all related documents have been drawn up in English. C'est la volonté expresse des parties que la présente convention ainsi que les documents qui s'y rattachent soient rédigés en anglais.

Whence did this practice originate and what is it for? Also, why state the same thing in English and French?

6

This language is almost certainly included in an attempt to make the agreement comply with the Charter of the French Language. The Charter is the legal document that sets French as the official language of the Canadian province of Quebec.

Chapter 7, paragraph 55 of the Charter states that adhesion contracts, such as software licenses, must be in French, but "may be drawn up in another language as well at the express wish of the parties."

Because the law seems to require a French version "as well" as the English version, it's not clear that the contracts in question are in compliance--but the language is straight out of the Charter, so it is clearly at least an attempted compliance with that law.

The French is included presumably because otherwise a Francophone Quebecois end user might try to invalidate the license by claiming that his or her waiver was not well-informed.

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You see this most often when a legal document is available in multiple languages. Translation isn't perfect, so by stating that one language is the "official" version, it eliminates the possibility of having multiple, contradictory versions of the document, with all the potential problems that entails.

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  • Hmm…that would make sense, but I can't find either of the documents I linked to in a different language. – nathan Jun 9 '15 at 18:00
  • And it doesn't explain why French, among all other languages, is chosen as the secondary language. – Petr Hudeček Jun 10 '15 at 9:47

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