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Simplicity is theplain english for lawyers ultimate sophistication plain English for lawyers

Furthermore, you should always think who you are writing for

Indeed, even today the EU Court of Justice has opined on the use of plain language in the con of insurance arrangements

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In todays case, the courtsaidthat a consumer, when reading a contract must be, in a position to evaluate, on the basis of precise, intelligible criteria, the economic consequences for him which derive from each term. Just because the terms of the contract make sense grammatically and are in plain English may not be enough for it to be plain and intelligible. The bigger picture is important too. How does the document work as a whole?

Melanie qualified as a solicitor in and she specialises in general commercial, IP/IT and digital media law.

Ministry of Plain English? My LexisNexis blog on Orwells rules for clear legal writing

If you useTermsandConditionsare they in Klingon or can your customers actually read them? Heres my thoughts

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ordinary words should be used as r as possible, and in their normal sense. Some alternatives to common legal jargon are illustrated under the headingGroup b of Annexe A

Now and again, it is mentioned in a few laws such as the Veterinary Medicines Regulations of all things but those laws do not define exactly what it is.

That said, there are certain words which in consumer contracts under the UTR are frowned upon by the CMA, including, in particular

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No. You should always remember that drafting a document in plainEnglishshould not be done out of con.

Other laws refer instead to plain and intelligible language, such as the Unir Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations Unir Terms Regulations.

You should certainly avoid using such terms or, if you feel that you cant, you should try to explain what they mean.

So, following our recent work in this area, we thought that it would be useful to set out more guidance on plain English does the law set out what it is? Is plain English itself enough? Where can I go for more guidance?

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Materials from the National Adult Literacy Agency in the Republic of Ireland are also very useful

however, avoidance of technical vocabulary cannot on its own guarantee intelligibility. That also requires clarity in the way terms are organised. Sentences should be short, and the of the contract broken up with easily understood subheadings covering recognisably similar issues. Statutory references, elaborate definitions, and extensive crossreferencing should be avoided

Theres not a great deal of news coming out of the UK Government at the moment, unless you think that M overnight resucing near Heathrow is tubthumbing news.

So, what do you think? Whats the worst plain English sin? Do let us know below.

You should also ideally consider using a guide to writing in plainEnglishfrom organisations such as

The English case ofOffice of Fair Trading v Foxtonsin also made a number of similar important points on the use of plain English. In particular, the question of plainintelligible language under the Unir Term Regulations does not extend merely to the words used. Regulation of the regulations requires not only that the actual wording of inidual clauses or conditions be comprehensible to consumers, but that the typical customer also understands the rights and obligations that he and the seller or supplier has under the contract.

There is little point using plain and intelligible language if it is impossible to, for example, navigate around a document because each paragraph is sentences long.

For this reason, take care not to slavishly follow the guidance. You should query whether the CMA always gets it right. Dont be afraid to add to, or subtract from, the CMAs suggested if needs be, but only if you have a robust reason to do so!

This is akin to the question, how long is a piece of string?

Every lawyer will have their own worst offending words or terms.

ECJ an insurance contract must set out transparently, in plain intelligible language the insurance arrangements

In particular, paragraph . of this guidance states,

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Bear in mind that some lawyers think that the OFT now the CMA has gone too r in its interpretation of the Unir Terms Regulations in some cases. The courts are the ultimate guidance whether something is written plainly and intelligibly.

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Her career has included privatepractice experience at Eversheds and Addleshaw Goddard, but mainly in the inhouse environment, notching up experience at GEC Alsthom, British Aerospace, Vertex, MyTravel Group and as General Counsel for Latitude Digital Marketing.

So this has given us at Comet plenty of time to look at the softer skills that lawyers need in their armoury, and particularly the need to write in language which can be understood.

Jon English jonenglishMarch ,

Plain Englishis not defined in Englishlaw as such.

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Firstly, check out the CMAsunir terms guidance.

By way of example, the Office of Fair Trading many duties of which passed to the Competition and Markets Authority CMA last year referred to plain Englishas being, jargon free language which is clear and not open to misinterpretation, the effects of which are understandable to consumers not just lawyers.

It goes without saying that archaic words such as hereby, heretofore, thereof etc should not be included in any document written in plain English.

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A plainEnglish documentshould therefore be written and formatted so that it

Therefore, if you want to understand plain English and how it works in practice, you need to refer to those government bodies which are responsible for the laws such as the Unir Terms Regulations, and from October the Consumer Rights Act .

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Collingwood Law Officelaw officefor over years, helping countless members of the community with a vast array of legal decisions. Ourexpert Lawyerscan help guide your next decision with their handson practical experience required to navigate the complex corporate and real estate market of the Greater Vancouver Area. We are able to serve our clients in English, Chinese Mandarin and Cantonese, Punjabi, and Shanghainese.

The information provided on our website is not intended to be legal advice. Factors unknown to us may affect the applicability of any statement or comment that we make on our website to your particular circumstances. Collingwood Law Office does not warrant the quality, accuracy or completeness of any information on our website. Such information is provided as is without warranty or condition of any kind. This website may include inaccuracies or typographical errors. In no event shall Collingwood Law Office be liable for any damages whatsoever, including special, indirect or consequential damages, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available on this website. Neither the submission of information nor receipt by us through this website is intended to create a solicitor/client relationship. Images used on this website are derivative works; the originals are licensed byCreative Commons.

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plain english for lawyersPlain English vs Legalese Should Lawyers Really Give Up Legal Jargons?

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Thus the mixture of Latin, French and English languages had quite an enormous influence on the English legal system and an ambiguity in communication ensured. As result of this emerging ambiguity English lawyers were unsure whether a French word had the same meaning as an English or Latin word. To avoid this confusion, they resorted to the use of pairs for greater emphasis.

So how did Latin maxims like Ubi Jus Ubi Remedium for every wrong the law provides a remedy, Res Ipsa Loquitur the thing speaks for itself and the host of them floodlight the vocabulary of modern lawyers? To answer that, grab your mother box assuming youre also a big n of DC comics and lets head back in time. Ready?

Its common knowledge that our courtrooms are inundated with cases of wrangling parties who due to this needless technicalization of contracts and agreements had signed sale agreements thinking it was a mortgage whereas it was an outright sale.  If only these agreements were any clearer, as would be, if they were drafted in plain English, such disputes could have been avoided and courts time saved.

Just like thewig and gown, the use of legalese as the official language of lawyers in the modern era remains painfully, a common law relic of a now bygone era. Like many extant legal traditions, legalese was once the accepted norm used in nearly all legal correspondence, documents, contracts, court pleadings and acts of parliament and subordinate legislation in all of Old Britain prior to the modern era but had since been devolved to the legal heritage of most jurisdictions Nigeria inclusive in the world today by dint of British colonial conquest. For most lawyers living at the time, legalese, was then as now, the inthing and ever since, lawyers have clung to it as a sentimental American teenager might insist on keeping a wellworn item of clothing during springcleaning.

It all started in Old Britain, as I said earlier, In AD after the Roman conquest of Britain. As a result, there was a sea change in the legal tradition of Britain when owing to the influence of the Romans, the Roman legal tradition usurped that of Britain. Thus, the legal language of Britain switched to Latin. It was around this same time that latinized expressions proliferated the legal lexicon. Examples of such expressions still used today include ad hoc, decto, bonafide, ultra vires and the many more.

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While the relevance of legalese is still a moot point still generating heated debate at the moment, very few among the many involved in this protracted debate are even aware of its actual provenance and how it is that law ever came to be overrun with these elaborate and overworked phrases and awkward Latin jargons.

Legalese has been defined as a specialized use of vocabulary, phrases, and syntax that helps lawyers to communicate easily with each other. But in a derogatory sense, it has been understood to mean legal terms combined in longwinded sentences, or varied or with permutations, with the initial design of legal or drafting precision but which otherwise add unnecessary complexity or inadvertently resulting in confusion

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But its only a question of time before we see any change in attitude.

Patrick Herbert is the EditorinChief and founder of Law Student Hub. He is an LL.B. Law graduate from the University of Benin, Nigeria. Hes a life enthusiast, a budding writer and internet entrepreneur. Patrick is deeply passionate about law and research and has inspired many with his thoughtprovoking articles. To get in touch, follow him on social media.

Having said that, it might be ideally apt to begin a topic of this magnitude especially one that attempts to critique a mainstream legal tradition that might invite scorn and outrage the many are quite taken with by first providing something in the way of a definition

However, its doubtful if its use in certain dealings, say, drafting agreements intended for use by nonlawyers would aid understanding. To my way of thinking, it certainly wont but would only serve to confuse and further leave lay readers and contacting parties in serious doubt as to their mutual contractual obligations. This could be a really serious problem.

With the definition out of the way, lets now find out why so many critics have been so vehement in their opposition to the use of legalese in legal discourse.

In order words, it means communication that lay readers cannot readily comprehend because its cluttered, wordy, indirect and that includes unnecessary technical words or phrases.

Plain English vs. Legalese Should Lawyers Really Give Up Legal Jargons?

Plain English vs. Legalese Should Lawyers Really Give Up Legal Jargons?

So it might help us understand this debate better if we could trace back legalese to its very origins. And that we would do now.

Patrick Herbert is the EditorinChief and founder of Law Student Hub. He is an LL.B. Law graduate from the University of Benin, Nigeria. Hes a life enthusiast, a budding writer and internet entrepreneur. Patrick is deeply passionate about law and research and has inspired many with his thoughtprovoking articles. To get in touch, follow him on social media.

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Picking up from where we let off our critique to trace the development of legalese, everyone would agree that the use of legalese only in communications between lawyers as in drafting of pleadings and all court related proceedings is perfectly okay since it isnt addressed nonlawyers but to only lawyers who themselves are skilled in it.

While legalese remains the extant language of the law, thereve been calls in many quarters that it be jettisoned in light of modern realities where its use in commercial negotiations might occasion undue confusion as between lay contracting parties.

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In recent times, these critics have put pressure on lawyers to abandon the unduly technical and tedious s of writing employed in most legal writings for the plain English modern, standard, English, that communicates directly with its targeted audience. To proponents of plain English, legalese as the only means of communication among lawyers is archaic and flouts the hallmark of good legal writing. For them legal writing need not vary from task to task or audience to audience. Whatever lawyers write must be clear, correct, concise and complete otherwise known as the Cs that describe good legal writing. For an example of a contract recast in plain English, you might want to look at our recent onlegal writingfor lawyers.

These critics feel the incidence of legalese in nearly all legal transactions today is nothing but a strained and awkward ritual of necessity, of outright irrelevance and well and truly out of tune with the times. They therefore propose a more convenient, readerfriendly means of communication among lawyers in the use of the plain English which they see as a better alternative to legalese.

Thus lawyers had to make use of pair of words from all three languages and this became quite a habit with them. Instances of such words used in modern legal parlance include breaking and entering a combination of English and French, fit and proper English/French, will and testament English/Latin. Other examples of English only pairs include let and hindrance, have and hold. In the same vein, lawyers adopted the use of unmiliar proforms to avoid repeating names and phrases. And in came the ofs, untos and ins prefixes found in many legal jargons. Examples are hereunto, hereof, whereof, therefore and further derivatives including at, in, after, and before.

This was exactly how these ornate and convoluted jargons along with other inherited technical terminologies collectively termed as legalese intended to befuddle lay people found their way into the vocabulary of lawyers today.

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Plain English vs. Legalese Should Lawyers Really Give Up Legal

But it remains to be seen if lawyers would take heed to this call to abandon their stylistic common law heritage for the more simplified plain English. Sadly though, there appears to be no such incentive as yet. Because for most lawyers who lawspeak, abandoning legalese for plain English could mean a dramatic ll in the extra fees they charge for their unusually wordy and lengthy documents. Its a wellknown ct among legal draftsmen that all written documents do not attract the same fees. For them usually, the larger the words used in drafting, the higher the fees the documents attract. This is why so many drafters vor prolix and discursive forms of writing over plainer forms. So as r it involves losing legal fees, it would take a great deal of convincing to get these lawyers to give up their loquacious predilections.

But after the departure of the Romans, the AngloSaxon invasion of Britain occurred and there was yet another change in legal tradition in Britain. This time, it was AngloSaxon law Germanic Vernacular that became the language of legal proceedings. However following the Norman invasion of England in , AngloNorman French became the official language of legal proceedings in England for nearly years. But as the years went by, Anglo Norman French developed into Law French from which many words in modern legal English are derived. Examples include property, estate, chattel, lease, executor and tenant.

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it is hereby agreed that no servant or agent of the carrier including every independent contractor from time to time employed by the carrier shall in any circumstances whatsoever be under any liability whatsoever to the shipper, consignor, or ownerandexemption, limitation, condition, and liberty herein contained

Its in the above scenarios that the criticisms leveled against lawyers using legalese seem evidently wellfounded. Thus when dealing with the public, lawyers arent doing themselves any vor writing in legalese. No, they wont communicate at all. Rather common sense demands that plain English or any such that communicates directly with its targeted audience be employed instead to avoid needless confusion. In order words, that there be no such use of flowery terminologies in documents targeted at nonlawyers where it appears they might not understand it. To do so would promote greater clarity in noncourt related legal matters.

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Heres a an example of a portion of a contract written in pure legalese

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Oregon State Barplain english for lawyers

Oregon State Barplain english for lawyersDoesnt the writer really mean that neither partyis allowed toassign the agreement? If thats what she means, she should simply use the wordmay.

There are so many things wrong with that sentence, its almost hard to know where to begin. But lets set aside the bad advice and focus here the unnecessary proviso. Lawyers use provisos for a lot of things, but their result is often to turn a perfectly reasonable sentence into a long, almost indecipherable tangle.

Neither party shall assign this Agreement, directly or indirectly, without the prior written consent of the other party.

This last example is particularly bad because the first proviso meansind the second meansalso.

While some lawyers will tell you that wordnumeral doublets prevent discrepancies in numbers, Im not sure this is true. After all, what if a lessee agrees to pay a lessor one thousand and no/ dollars .. Doesnt this just open up a world of problems that didnt exist before you decided to double up? Of course, the possibility for getting the number wrong is still there if you use just the numeral which is a great reason to double and even triplecheck your work. But its just not a great reason to use a wordnumeral doublet.

Now that you know what my student meant by plain English, what do you think? Are we actually still in love with legalese?

Megan McAlpin teaches legal research and writing at the University of Oregon School of Law. You may contact her at . Shed love to hear your thoughts on legalese.

Provisos in legal writing are not necessary provided, however, that if a writer cannot find another way to express an exception, then the writer shall use a proviso to express said exception.

Note If you are having a panic attack about separating your rule and your exception with a period, take a deep breath. Its okay. The exception is still there and, better yet, its now expressed in a way

ExampleProvisos in legal writing are not necessary. However, if a writer cannot find another way to express an exception, the writer can use a proviso.

Of course, there are times whenshallreally does meanhas a duty to.But in that case, wouldntmust,will, oriswork? After all, courts in almost every jurisdiction have held at various times thatshallcan meanmust,may,will, andis. Wouldnt it be smarter for you to decide what you actually mean rather than waiting for a court to decide for you?

And it can meanalso.Employer will pay Employee on the st and th of each month, provided that Employee is a fulltime employee; and provided further that Employee signs her time sheet and delivers it to payroll by the th and th of each month.

None of these phrases has any legal significance. They can all be easily replaced. Just do it.

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Because provisos can mean different things, you just shouldnt use them. Rather than using provisos, simply say what you mean. If you meanexceptsayexceptor maybe even find a more precise word!

Midway through a recent conversation with a doctor, I realized that I had no idea what he was saying. At one point, I was convinced that he wasnt even speaking English. Well, he was speaking English, but it was so laced with medical jargon that I couldnt understand it.

For years, I assumed there was some magic in the wordnumeral doublet. After all, every contract I ever read contained them. And, besides, when I write checks, I write out both the numeral and the word, right? Must be magical.

Lawyers use the wordshallin writing, even when they would never speak the word in conversation. The most obvious reason the one on the tip of your tongue right now is thatshallis a mandatory word. And, while its true thatshallmeanshas a duty to, we dont always use it this way. Consider the following sentence

Giving your reader just this little extra help will ensure that she wont stumble on the acronym for even a moment.

Would you be confused if, three paragraphs from now, I referred to this article rather than Article? Would you wonder whether I really meant another article? Probably not. But, if you would if there is a genuine chance that your reader might be confused using a parenthetical shorthand name might be helpful.

Using a parenthetical shorthand name might also be useful where you are planning to use an acronym. Now, be careful here, too. No one likes to read a full of alphabet soup. But where you want to use a welleslished acronym, you may want to spell it out first. For example, if youre going to refer to the Family Medical Leave Act as FMLA, then you probably want to do this

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It can meanexceptas it does in that ugly sentence above.

Well, as it turns out, its not. The wordnumeral doublet probably began as a safeguard against altered documents, but legal documents are a lot less susceptible to manipulation today. Unlike checks, which are still handwritten. That initial numeral could still be changed pretty easily. But, really, who writes checks anymore anyway?

Recently, a student asked me what real lawyers would think of the plain English agreement he was drafting. He worried that prospective employers would question his abilities if they saw a document completely devoid of any. So, the question is, do lawyers actually like plain English? Or are we still in love with legalese? Take a look at these tips for avoiding legalese, and then decide do you really prefer plain English?

that your reader can more easily understand it.

Dont Habitually Use Parenthetical Shorthand Names.

It can meanif. Provided that the Employee meets the qualifications, she may participate in employee benefit programs eslished by Employer.

A proviso is any phrase that begins withprovided that.Take, for instance, the following dreadful proviso

This article hereinafter Article has attempted to list several of the more egregious forms of legalese hereinafter Legalese, but some s of Legalese arent really legalese at all, but just bad lawyer habits hereinafter Bad Habits.

We lawyers have a jargon of our own. The problem, especially for law students and new lawyers, is distinguishing between terms of art, which you cant replace, and legal jargon, which you can. Consider a few examples of replaceable jargon

While sometimes its useful or even necessary to use a parenthetical shorthand name, it isnt always.

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In addition to a sentence unreasonably long, a proviso can be problematic because the phrase provided that can mean at least three different things.

One of the more puzzling habits of legal writers is the use of three words to say what one word could. Consider the employment agreement where the employer employs, engages, and hires an employee. Is there a reason that the employer cant just employ the employee? And what about the will in which the testators give, devise, and bequeath? Wouldnt just one of these do the trick?

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