European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Living in the Past

The Critics of Plain Language

Keywords plain language, legal drafting, legislation, professional responsibility, legalese
Authors Derwent Coshott
Author's information

Derwent Coshott
BA (Dist) (UNSW) JD (Syd) GradDipLegalPrac (ColLaw) LLM (Syd). PhD Candidate and Casual Lecturer at the University of Sydney.
  • Abstract

      This article addresses three core complaints that are frequently levelled by critics of plain legal language: (1) It will reduce reliance on lawyers; (2) It is uncertain and will lead to greater litigation; and (3) Legal writing is, and should only be, for a legally trained audience. The article develops a definition of plain language that reflects a more contemporary understanding. It demonstrates that the three core criticisms misrepresent this understanding and are unsustainable with regard to lawyers’ duty to clients, the role of legislation as public documents, and modern commercial realities.

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