During the COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, ClarifyNow services continue remotely, including interactive training using Zoom or your own meeting software.

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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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....

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

California law firms graded on drafting

Clerk is software designed to analyse briefs, highlight strengths and weaknesses, and grade their chances of success. According to Clerk, a plaintiff should avoid citing a case in which the defendant won. And, obviously, an advocate should ensure quotations are...

read more

Lawyers deny client reactions to legal language

The Legal Ombudsman commissioned research into the impact of lawyers’ language in complaint handling and in its own communications. Interviews with 15 individuals and 4 groups suggested that dissatisfied clients take their lawyers’ jargon as an attack, intended to...

read more

“Indirect and consequential loss” misunderstood

I’ve long suspected that contract users don’t understand “indirect and consequential loss” as the courts say they should. In January, I had the chance to survey members of the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management, asking what these terms...

read more


Follow the blog

Sign up for our blog on plain English in law and business


Show Buttons
Hide Buttons