Judge annoyed, writer embarrassed

Mr Justice Holgate has published a judgment spelling out the effect on the judge of long and confused written arguments. He focused on the extra time the judge must spend on pre-reading, hearing the case, and writing the judgment. The impact on the writer appears...

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Who wants plain language?

Three studies published this summer conclude that respondents value plain English and would like more from their advisors and regulators. Was that too obvious to mention in a blog? CMA stakeholder perceptions survey 2016/17, 26 June 2017 LSB research: consumers with...

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Which courts receive the simplest arguments?

An American lawyer has analysed 600 appellant briefs written for three courts in the USA. He found that the simplest writing style appeared in briefs written for the US Supreme Court, even though the court decides complex questions. Average sentence length and use of...

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Template agreements: edit with care

In 1999 I asked 35 lawyers to name the biggest pitfall in contract drafting. The most common answer was the unthinking use of templates and previous documents, not adapted to the deal. Or, as one lawyer put it, "Slavish following of precedents, inability to engage...

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Interpreting “devise” and “bequeath”

In the past, wills would “devise” land and “bequeath” personal property. This distinction could cause trouble if someone unaware of it used the words incorrectly, or wordiness if they used both unnecessarily. The word “give” does not raise these difficulties. The Law...

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Use more images in court documents

Mr Justice Carr has suggested various ways to shorten trials about registered designs. Instead of requesting written details, parties should “produce images at an early stage to show the differences or similarities upon which they rely, and in the case of the...

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Value of catch-all wording

When bringing a claim, you have to tell the decision-maker what you want. Lawyers often finish this off with a standard phrase such as “such other relief as [the decision-maker] thinks proper”. If this adds anything to the claim, it may increase the claim fee. So,...

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Gender-neutral building contracts

In June 2014, we had a Clarity breakfast on the NEC set of building contracts, then in its 3rd edition, first drafted in 1991 in non-legal language. In the discussion, Justin Mort QC asked why, since most parties to these contracts are companies, the contracts still...

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Short form judgment in the Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has given its first “short form” judgment, dismissing  an appeal about a deportation order in 26 short paragraphs (1117 words). My favourite is paragraph 17: “There is nothing in this point”. It is already usual for two judges in the Court of...

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Application process improved

Every year, 120,000 litigants get a reduction in court or tribunal fees. Most applicants qualify for the reduction, but 380,000 applications a year are rejected, usually because the applicants misunderstood the form or sent the wrong evidence. Then they must apply...

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