I've read a lawsuit (link:https://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/US/433/433.US.36.76-15.html) that uses both "vertical restraints" and "vertical restrictions", I'm translating this document so I wonder if there is any difference between these phrases in terms of usage and meaning and whatever you can figure out. I also wonder whether I can use these terms interchangeably.

Please use plain english because I'm not a native speaker.

closed as off-topic by Edwin Ashworth, user66974, Mari-Lou A, RyeɃreḁd, Hellion May 5 '14 at 13:20

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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about legal terminology rather than mainstream English. The advice given at meta is: 'Is domain-specific terminology off-topic?' ... 'I think the bottom line which can push a question more towards English or more towards the other topic would be how relevant the word, phrase, or situation is in the life of the average person.' [ChrisM] – Edwin Ashworth May 4 '14 at 9:46

I cannot speak to general legal use; but I observe that in this set of opinions

  1. The Decision consistently employs restraint only when speaking specifically of ‘restraint of trade’ prohibited by Sherman; otherwise it speaks of (vertical) restrictions. I imagine the Justice who wrote the opinion was taking care not to characterize the practices complained of as illegal.

  2. Justice White follows a slightly different pattern: although he uses the term restriction consistently when speaking of customer and location restrictions, he employs the phrase vertical constraints when it is a matter of the restrictions/restraints which were held in Schwinn to be illegal—his main point being that he does not believe that the current case requires the court to overrule Schwinn.

I read this fairly hastily, but I think these two patterns hold throughout the document, except in passages where the authors are quoting other sources.

I conclude that the distinction is deliberate and rhetorical.

  • thank you so much, you're the first one that ever read the document I cite – Thien Toan Nguyen May 4 '14 at 2:43
  • Actually, I have this pdf document, which indirectly define "vertical restraints" as "restrictions in vertical agreements" (slaughterandmay.com/media/64575/…). I think this leads me to nowhere because if I choose this definition, so ultimately "restraint" is still just "restriction" in a particular context. what do you think? – Thien Toan Nguyen May 5 '14 at 8:52
  • @ThienToanNguyen My impression is the same: the two words are basically synonymous, but the critical question is whether a particular restriction/restraint is an illegal 'restraint of trade'. – StoneyB May 5 '14 at 10:26

The terms appear to be synonymous in the ruling you linked to. But, not being a lawyer versed in antitrust law, it's difficult to tell.

For something as complicated as a legal ruling, I would shy away from a translation attempt unless your resources allow for hiring a sufficiently-skilled lawyer to answer this sort of question. A foreign-language summary would be more.appropriate, although if a full translation is required a consistent naming or accompanying footnote may suffice.

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