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An example of legalese

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Many lawyers find it difficult to use plain English, and prefer are more archaic style of writing. Here is an example of legalese found at the end of a deed:

In witness whereof the parties hereunto have set their hands to these presents as a deed on the day month and year hereinbefore mentioned. (24 words)

And here is a plain language version of the same text:

Signed on (DATE) …………. (2 words plus the date)

As a client, would you feel more comfortable signing the first version or the second? Many people are suspicious of legal language, and are reluctant to sign something they do not understand. They can resent lawyers for making things unnecessarily complex, and for charging a large fee to explain something that could have been far more simply expressed in the first place.

The UK Plain English Campaign’s annual Golden Bull awards are given for the year’s ‘best’ examples of unnecessarily complex English. The Bishop of Blackburn was nominated for a Golden Bull in 2011 for this example of legalese in a letter sent to parishioners. See if you can understand what the bishop wrote. It concerns a parish priest who had been acting as a temporary vicar during an initial trial period before a final decision was taken as to how to fill the post.

AND WHEREAS We have consented to the said period being so brought to an end and to the exercise of such right of presentation NOW WE HEREBY DECLARE that the said period shall come to an end on the date hereof and that the said vacancy in the said Benefice of Ansdell and Fairhaven Saint Paul in Our said Diocese of Blackburn may thereupon be filled.

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