The provision made at the end of cl 17 enables a purchaser, if he wishes, to prove affectation at the relevant date by production of the appropriate written statement, in the present case stating affectation at the date of contract by a proposal for siting of a road. If he wishes, however, he could prove this otherwise by evidence given directly to establish the proposal and affectation by it. If, however, he elects to produce an appropriate statement, it provides the proof required to establish the ground for rescission.

Above is an extract from a legal judgement. The way the phrase "prove this otherwise" is used in the above is confusing me. I understood the phrase to mean disprove, but if I adopt this definition, the above judgement will not make sense. Why would the purchaser wish to disprove his own evidence?

The only way to make sense of it is to interpret it as to mean "prove it in other ways." Can the phrase "prove this otherwise" also mean "prove it in other ways?"

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    Are you sure you copied it verbatim? The word affectation confuses me. I'm not a native speaker, but usually I can understand the meaning of a passage in legalese. This passage is cryptic to me. Dec 23, 2015 at 10:41
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    Yes, I copied it correctly. The purchaser is trying to rescind the contract by proving that the land he purchased was affected by the proposal by the Department of Main Roads to build a tunnel at the date of the contract.
    – Lee
    Dec 23, 2015 at 10:52
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    This is a remarkably bad piece of drafting even by legal standards. Dec 23, 2015 at 11:08
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    @CopperKettle "proposal an affectation by it" Ok, this was a typo. The actual sentence is "proposal and affectation by it". Sorry about the confusion.
    – Lee
    Dec 23, 2015 at 11:47

2 Answers 2


I think in this case prove this otherwise means prove this in another way.

I would paraphase the first sentence like this:

a purchaser may prove affectation by producing an appropriate written statement

And the second sentence like this:

the purchaser could prove this in another manner, by directly giving evidence

In any case, it's not clear English, it's legalese. If it's very important that you understand this without any possibility of misinterpretation, I'd advise you to consult a lawyer.

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    @CopperK - That question is outside the scope of this question! Seriously, only a lawyer or a magistrate would write something this terrible.
    – J.R.
    Dec 23, 2015 at 11:33
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    Yes, "otherwise" in this case is modifying "prove" rather than "this". Simply writing it "otherwise prove this" would have disambiguated, but then the lawyers wouldn't get paid as much...
    – Jeff Y
    Dec 23, 2015 at 15:10

It means to prove this using another method (not by producing the appropriate written statement . . ., but by proving it in a different way).

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