Plain English for All

Have you ever received a document from a lawyer and not been able to make sense of it – if you are our client, the answer is likely no.   If the answer is yes, please call me directly.

When I was in law school 20 years ago there was a new movement called ” Plain English For Lawyers” – the intention was to get rid of the old legal sounding words that don’t add anything to a contract and simply have the document say what it means.  I have always appreciated this idea and emphasized with the lawyers in our firm that our documents need to be in Plain English.

Of course, the definition of Plain English is constantly evolving and I wonder, given some of the interesting use of English in covering letters for Job Applications I have seen over the years if in the future a current phrase that reads: “Please find attached a letter for your review”  will read ” Pls fnd attchd a lettr 4 u to rview”?

Aside from the spelling issues of texting, the issue of meaning comes up – when shortening words or using phrases outside of their main stream context a ” Plain English”  agreement is no longer plain and if used to form an ” agreement ” could lead to litigation about the true meaning.

So, while I advocate Plain English for All, I also advocate having a lawyer draft or review documents to ensure that they are also enforceable in the event something goes wrong.

Inga B. Andriessen, Sr. Lawyer
iandriessen@andriessen.ca

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