If, Where and When


The use of where to state a case or condition is archaic and appears legalistic to non-legal readers and if is generally recognized by English speakers as introducing a condition in everyday usage. Since it is often difficult to express the difference between case and condition, and since if can be used for both, if will be correct in any event. It precludes the need to make the distinction between case and condition and is preferable in the interest of clarity.


If can almost always be used to introduce a case or condition in legislative texts. However, when is the more appropriate choice when time or timing is important to the rule, when describing a rare or once-only situation or when there is some certainty that an event will occur. We can usually reserve where to introduce adverbial clauses that refer to a specific physical place. This does not preclude the use of “where”, “in cases where”, or “in circumstances where” when they seem more logical and natural in the particular context.


Examples of "if":

Examples of "when":

Examples of "where":

As an alternative to the use of too many ifs in the same provision, consider restructuring the text to clarify the relationships among the conditions.


Perhaps using more than one subsection to express the above would result in a simpler text overall.