John Pease_paper.pdf - 7‐9 November 2012, Coolum, Sunshine...

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79November2012,Coolum,SunshineCoast,QueenslandACLANationalConference2012PlainEnglishAsolutionforeffectivecommunicationJohn PeaseFriday, 9 November 2012
Page | 1ContentsIntroduction..................................................................................................................................2What is plain English?..................................................................................................................3It’s been a long journey ….............................................................................................................5The early English experience....................................................................................................5The United States......................................................................................................................7United Kingdom........................................................................................................................9Australia...................................................................................................................................10Why plain English makes sense..................................................................................................12Respect for the law..................................................................................................................12It is required by law.................................................................................................................12Plain English saves time..........................................................................................................13Plain English saves money......................................................................................................13As a compliance tool................................................................................................................13Avoiding disputes & litigation.................................................................................................13The reputation of the legal profession....................................................................................14Answering the critics...................................................................................................................14Is ‘plain’ English safe (some liability issues)..............................................................................17Can you affordnotto use plain English?...................................................................................18Tips for plain English (effective) communication.....................................................................21Appendix – ‘Big word’ alternatives...........................................................................................30
Page | 2IntroductionIn this paper, I discuss:The history of legal writing and the emergence of plain EnglishWhy you should write in plain EnglishHow to write in plain English.As lawyers, what we do most is write – Abraham Lincoln said that a lawyer’s time and adviceare his stock in trade, but we express the advice in words.And we use our time in drafting, incommunicating via the written word.Sometimes, though, we overlook the first object ofwriting … to communicate.Lawyers no longer communicate only to lawyers.Parliamentary counselno longer write fora small educated elite.The public and the profession are becoming increasingly intolerant ofarchaic and unnecessarily complex legal language.But the challenge is not unique to the legal profession.Not only is poor legal language losinglawyers their clients, but businesses that use archaic language in their documents are losingcustomers to those who do not.The failure to use plain language costs society as a whole aninordinate amount of time and money.Poor legal language brings the profession, and thelaw itself, into disrepute.Many in the legal profession and the wider business community have found plain language tobe economic and a good marketing tool.The use of plain English saves everyone time andmoney and makes the law directly relevant to those who are affected by it.But the legal profession is faced with a challenge.How can the law be expressed so that it isreadily understood?How can the message contained in agreements, wills, letters, briefs,opinions, judgments, and legislation be communicated in the clearest possible way?The premise behind the plain English movement is that legal documents ought to be plainer– and more comprehensible – to the average person.With such a goal, it is hard to imaginehow even the movement’s sternest critics could suggest that plain English is anything but anaid to effective communication.

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Term
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Tags
Test, The Declaration of Independence, Plain Legal Language

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