Author proposes plain English in legal writing
12 January 2016, 15:27
Nairobi - Legal practitioner and author Chinua Asuzu advocates the use of plain English in legal communication and writing.
In his newly published book, The Uncommon Law of Learned Writing (published by Partridge Africa), Asuzu lambastes lawyers all over the world for the legalese and verbosity with which they have obscured legal writing for centuries.
He contends that legal writing should serve the needs and interests of end users, lawyers and nonlawyers alike.
"Law is not just for lawyers, but for the whole community or all the citizens of any jurisdiction," says Asuzu.
"Everyone of average education should be able to understand legal communication. Legal writing should communicate plainly and efficiently." Ordinary educated people, whether learned in the law or not, should be able to read legal texts, including arbitral awards, court decisions and legislation without stumbling into the technical roadblocks of legal jargon. Legal writers should be considerate of the public ear when writing their legal documents.
The Uncommon Law of Learned Writing emphasizes audience awareness and guides readers on the practical ways of implementing the sensible and commonsensical changes for achieving the desired transition to plain English in legal writing.
Contrary to what might at first apply, plain English does not mean dumbing down the prose. Plain English is high literacy without highhanded obscurity. Plain English in the law retains the majesty of legal language.
“Lay access to legal writing is an underlying attribute of modern democracy and modern society. It will resolve most of the issues concerning public accountability, open government, corporate governance, information access and freedom. Democracy itself is anchored on transparency and transparency cannot be attained without general access to legal documents.”
Asuzu writes from the standpoint of vast professional experience, having worked in law for 25 years.
Author Chinua Asuzu is a commissioner of the Tax Appeal Tribunal in Nigeria. He is versed in arbitration, legal writing, litigation and tax law. Asuzu is a consultant on academic writing, arbitration and litigation drafting, brief writing, business writing, judicial writing, legislative drafting and transactional drafting. He is the dean of The Write House. His clients include agencies, corporations, governments, the judiciary, law firms, law schools, legal departments and legislative houses.