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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Paul Caddy _PaulCaddyDecember ,
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.
EU Court of Justice EUCourtPressApril ,
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 .