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Must, shall and will in business contracts

An instructor in contract drafting once condemned a contract term I had written: Party B will pay Party A £25,000 by 30 September. "You haven't created an obligation," he told me. "To impose an obligation, use shall, not will." I protested that, when A sued for the...

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How and why to avoid passive verbs

    At last, a blog post for everyone who discovered active verbs in one of my workshops and wants more on how to identify passive verbs and edit them out. Why avoid passive verbs? Plain English favours the active voice over the passive, for good reasons.The active...

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Should you ever write “and/or”?

    Short answer: No one ever has to write "and/or". There is always another, better way to say what you mean. Consider the alternatives in this article. And/or meant one, the other or both I think this is the most common meaning of and/or. For example, here is a...

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Check passive verbs with Word and Outlook

  Word and Outlook detect some passive verbs Word and Outlook are normally right when they identify a passive verb. But they miss plenty. In this text, for example: Word 2010 has underlined a passive verb (can be found). If you edit that out, it shows you another...

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Can good contract drafting prevent disputes?

The Clarity breakfast on 6 June discussed whether good contract drafting can prevent disputes, focusing on commercial contracts and big disputes. Our speaker, Simon Rainey QC, suggested that no drafting can stop a party launching a claim, if the stakes are high...

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Are 5 good writing habits enough?

I wrote a short piece for the Law Society Gazette in April, listing 5 good writing habits. Straight away, one reader emailed me back, suggesting that writing in the active voice deserves a place in the top 5. I agree, although the others are strong contenders too....

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Prolix defence struck out: shorter one ordered

A High Court judge struck out a 50-page defence as it “bears no resemblance to a professionally prepared statement of case”. Drafted by a solicitor, it began with a 3-page list of contents, followed by an 8-page summary. It ended with a 3-page index. This was the...

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Improving jury directions

Two professors at the University of Glasgow School of Law have published research into various methods of improving the directions the judges give to juries. They found that the most effective ways to impove jurors’ understanding of their task were to put the...

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