EN: This policy shall be voidable


Bonjour à tous,

Comment traduiriez-vous:

"this policy shall be voidable in the event of mispresentation"

" le contrat d'assurance sera obligatoirement annulé en cas de fausse déclaration"

En fait, j'ai un doute car "voidable" signifie annulable et non pas annulé...

Devrai-je plutôt dire

"la fausse déclaration rendra le contrat d'assurance annulable"?

  • LART01

    Senior Member
    En français on dirait dans un contrat:
    Toute fausse déclaration sera susceptible d'entraîner l'annulation/entrainera l'annulation du contrat.....


    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    Dans ce contexte le verbe modal shall exprime l'obligation et pas simplement le futur.

    (C'est le temps utilisé en anglais pour les 10 Commandements, d'ailleurs)


    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Bonjour à tous,
    En fait, j'ai un doute car "voidable" signifie annulable et non pas annulé...
    Yes absolutely, this is an important difference. The policy is not automatically void but the insurer has the option to treat it as void.

    For this reason I think you would have to go with your second option or LART01's first option. The other suggestions are translations of the policy shall be void in the event of misrepresentation.


    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    I would have read that as meaning that the contract had to be drafted in such a way that it could be avoided (as if we were discussing legislation requiring all contracts of insurance to contain this kind of clause).

    I think this is because of the doit - I'm obviously not a native speaker so just for my own interest what is the function of doit in this sentence? What is the difference between doit pouvoir être... and peut être..?

    Maître Capello

    Mod et ratures
    French – Switzerland
    I used doit to translate the obligation conveyed by shall. Otherwise you're merely saying that this is an "optional" possibility, not a required one.

    Le contrat d'assurance doit pouvoir être annulé = The policy shall be voidable.
    Le contrat d'assurance peut être annulé = The policy can be voided.


    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    OK but the policy shall be voidable = the policy can be avoided. There is no difference in the meaning here, only in the style.

    The idea of a required possibility is a bit of an oxymoron. I can't make sense of it except where one document (like a statute) is requiring some option to be made available in another (like a contract).

    I suspect though that I am in danger of straying from the topic. Thanks for your explanation.


    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Obligation isn’t really the right word. You can test this by asking “an obligation on whom, to do what?”

    I would certainly agree that the word shall is often used in the context of a contractual obligation, as in:

    The Vendor shall deliver the widgets in accordance with the delivery schedule in Annex 2.

    (NB – Q: Obligation on whom? A: The Vendor. Q: To do what? A: To deliver the widgets in accordance with the schedule.)

    However another reason it is used in contractual provisions is simply to reflect the fact that they have contractual force.

    This contract shall terminate upon the occurrence of any of the following events:

    (Q: Obligation on whom? A: ??? Q: To do what? A: ???)

    This is the kind of shall we have in our sentence. Another way of testing this is to ask whether shall can sensibly be replaced with must. It can in the first example but would be very odd in the second.

    The problem is that devoir only translates the first kind of shall – the one that is equivalent to must and creates a genuine obligation. Even there it is not necessary and a FR contract might well say les widgets sont livrés par le Vendeur conformément…

    I don’t really expect you to be persuaded by my clumsy EN >> FR translations so I searched for the first instance of shall in the European VAT directive and found the following:

    EN: On each transaction, VAT, calculated on the price of the goods or services at the rate applicable to such goods or services, shall be chargeable after deduction of the amount of VAT borne directly by the various cost components.

    FR: À chaque opération, la TVA, calculée sur le prix du bien ou du service au taux applicable à ce bien ou à ce service, est exigible déduction faite du montant de la taxe qui a grevé directement le coût des divers éléments constitutifs du prix.

    This is the second kind of shall and the FR does not use a modal form of any kind. What is different here is that whereas you could say le Vendeur doit livrer les widgets conformément… I believe (with the usual caveats about being an Anglophone) that the VAT provision wouldn’t make much sense if it said doit être exigible instead of est exigible.

    So what I am saying is that in the first kind of case, shall = must and you can use devoir, whereas in the second kind of case shall =/= must and you cannot use devoir. You don’t have to use it in either case.

    It would be especially odd to use must (or devoir) in the original provision because, besides the fact that the provision uses the second kind of shall, what follows is optional by nature and not mandatory. It just doesn’t make sense for a contract to say that a party must have an option to do X – the contract is stipulating that that party does have that option.

    All of which is a long way of saying that a provision stipulating that the policy shall be voidable by the insurer in the event that... is no different in meaning from one stipulating that the insurer can avoid the policy if... The first formulation is more legalistic in style, but that’s all. Both give the insurer the right to avoid the policy without providing that it will be automatically avoided. To return to the OP's question, this is important because the insurer might not want the policy to be void (which means void ab initio, as if it had never existed). Imagine that the policy has been renewed yearly for the last 10 years, with the money taken each year, and there has been no claim – does the insurer really want to be in a position where there was never any contractual basis for those payments?
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