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In Search of Perfect Client Service Why lawyers don't seem to get it

“True and correct” copies

Posted in Commentary, General

When I was a young lawyer, one of my first disputes was with a partner who asked me to proofread his brief.  Presented by the phrase “true and correct copy”, I dutifully struck the words “true and correct”.  We fought over that edit–I lost.  But I have never been willing to sign my name to that phrase.  I was just presented today with a settlement agreement that contained the phrase and my earlier encounter replayed in my mind’s eye.

Here’s the thing.  A document is either a copy or it is not.  Have you ever seen an untrue copy?  An incorrect copy? What is a true but incorrect copy? Or an untrue but correct copy?  I’ve never been able to figure that out.

Maybe you can tell–one of my pet peeves.  Sorry to burden you.

  • Patrick: I see “true and correct” most often in contract provisions that state that the recitals are “true and correct.” Such provisions are unhelpful: if the recitals state facts that might form the basis for a claim and you’re uncertain that they’re accurate, include those facts in the body of the contract.

    As regards copies, “true and correct” seems an odd choice. More commonplace is “complete and accurate.” That seems like yet another instance of redundancy, but it’s more subtle than that, in that you could conceivably provide information that is accurate yet doesn’t represent all pertinent information. I spend eight paragraphs discussing that phrase in the third edition of my book “A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting,” which will be published in a couple of days. I won’t put your readers to sleep by attempting to repeat that analysis in this comment!


  • Thanks for the post. I see, and admit to using, the phrase “true and correct copy” when attaching exhibits to a declaration. I learned that this was “the right way to do it” 25 years ago as a law clerk in federal court. The phase “true and correct” is not required, and in fact does not appear, in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 28 U.S.C. sec. 1746, and the comments to Rule 56, allow for the use of declarations that are subscribed to be “true” under penalty of perjury. Absent a statutory or FRCP requirement to the contrary, it’s hard to image an objection to an exhibit being sustained based on the declarant stating that the exhibit is “accurate” rather than “true and correct”.