Plain English in Consumer-Credit Contracts: An Examination of Approaches
Ashton, Steven O.
MetadataShow full item record
Plain English is a movement to simplify legal documents that is causing a great deal of controversy in the legal profession, for it is an attempt to purge lawyers of the "sins" of legal writing. Excessive words and phrases of legal jargon clutter the language to the point where lawyers themselves are occasionally unable to interpret each others' writing. Legalese is a disease; Plain English is the prescribed cure. Federal and state legislatures are responding to the problem by drafting Plain English laws requiring consumer contracts to be written in a "simple, straightforward language with common, everyday meaning." In 1980, President Carter issued an executive order declaring that government regulations must be "written in plain English and [be] understandable to those who must comply with it." Similarly, large corporations are writing consumer contracts -- bank loans, insurance policies, and common transactional agreements -- in Plain English. For the purpose of this paper, we will concentrate on various approaches to solving the Plain English dilemma.