Cuttings: A Case for Legalese (Or Not) A Case for Legalese (Or Not) | Cuttings

Things of interest.

August 20, 2020

A Case for Legalese (Or Not)

Singular interpretations and written objectivity.

There was a discussion on Reddit on the nature of factual writing. It touched on legalese, and why it is the way it is.

One makes the case:

…For anyone who wonders why there’s the need for a plain language summary in the first place: Research must be presented in such a way as to avoid misconceptions as much as possible, so very rigid language structure is used. That’s also why legal writing is difficult to understand. It has to be written in such a way that only a singular interpretation can be derived.

Another states that legalese is not (and should not behave) like code. Opposing the case, he admits that the law should never be strictly objective, nor written in that fashion:

… Programming language is imperative and declarative.

If law/legal documents was to be written with the same objectivity, courts, lawyers and legal process would be rendered useless, as the legislation could be directly applied, on site, by immediate response authorities, with total disregard for context of events and motivation.

In fact, by being hard to interpret, law admits leeway that otherwise would be impossible to achieve.

Law making in about achieving a careful balance between being solely restrictive (you will not do) and being orienting (you can do, up to a given point).


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