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Article

Living in the Past

The Critics of Plain Language

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2014
Keywords plain language, legal drafting, legislation, professional responsibility, legalese
Authors Derwent Coshott
AbstractAuthor's information

    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.


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

“What Does He Think This Is? The Court of Human Rights or the United Nations?”

(Plain) Language in the Written Memories of Arbitral Proceedings: A Cross-Cultural Case Study

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2014
Keywords arbitration, legal language, plain language, specialised discourse, corpus linguistics
Authors Stefania Maria Maci
AbstractAuthor's information

    Arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an extra-judicial process resolved privately outside an ordinary court of justice. As such, the award has the same legal effects as a judgment pronounced by a court judge. Arbitration can be preceded by a pre-trial process in which arbitrators try to reach a conciliation agreement between the parties. If an agreement is not reached, the arbitration process begins with the gathering of the parties’ memories. In both oral and written evidence, language is used argumentatively, and above all persuasively, by all sides or parties involved.
    Extensive studies in arbitration have been carried out from the viewpoint of law. From an applied linguistics angle, the study of interaction in legal contexts has recently been carried out with particular regard to witness testimony and cross-examination in international commercial arbitration within the processes of arbitral hearings and the writing of minutes.
    To the best of my knowledge, to date there has never been an investigation on plain language in arbitral memories across national and professional cultures. Therefore, by carrying out a comparative analysis of the written evidence presented in two arbitral processes, this paper tries to evaluate the degree of influence that different legal cultures may exert on the type of language used in written arbitration evidence. The main objective is to offer insights into some instances of arbitration proceedings and their development within their British and Italian contexts.


Stefania Maria Maci
Stefania M. Maci is Aggregate Professor of English Language and Translation at the University of Bergamo, where she teaches English linguistic courses at graduate and undergraduate level. She is member of CERLIS (Research Centre on Specialized Languages), CLAVIER (The Corpus and Language Variation in English Research Group), BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguistics), and AIA (Associazione Italiana di Anglistica).
Article

Making EU Legislation Clearer

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2014
Keywords European Union, transparency, openness, clarity of legislation
Authors William Robinson
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article looks at the clarity of the legislation of the European Union (EU), in particular the clarity of the language used. It sketches out the basic EU rules on transparency and openness, past expressions of concern for clearer EU legislation, and the response of the institutions. Finally, it considers briefly some ways to make EU legislation clearer.


William Robinson
Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, formerly coordinator in the Quality of Legislation Team of the European Commission Legal Service.
Article

Access_open Tax Competition within the European Union – Is the CCCTB Directive a Solution?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 1 2014
Keywords tax competition, tax planning, European Union, Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, factor manipulation
Authors Maarten de Wilde LL.M
AbstractAuthor's information

    The author addresses the phenomenon of taxable profit-shifting operations undertaken by multinationals in response to countries competing for corporate tax bases within the European Union. The central question is whether this might be a relic of the past when the European Commission’s proposal for a Council Directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base sees the light of day. Or would the EU-wide corporate tax system provide incentives for multinationals to pursue artificial tax base-shifting practices within the EU, potentially invigorating the risk of undue governmental tax competition responses? The author’s tentative answer on the potential for artificial base shifting and undue tax competition is in the affirmative. Today, the issue of harmful tax competition within the EU seems to have been pushed back as a result of the soft law approaches that were initiated in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But things might change if the CCCTB proposal as currently drafted enters into force. There may be a risk that substantial parts of the EU tax base would instantly become mobile as of that day. As the EU Member States at that time seem to have only a single tool available to respond to this – the tax rate – that may perhaps initiate an undesirable race for the EU tax base, at least theoretically.


Maarten de Wilde LL.M
LL.M, Researcher/lecturer, Erasmus University Rotterdam (<dewilde@law.eur.nl>), lecturer, University of Amsterdam, tax lawyer, Loyens & Loeff NV, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This article was written as part of the Erasmus School of Law research programme on ‘Fiscal Autonomy and Its Boundaries’. The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this article.
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