Cut legal jargon: Simple language a must for better decision-making - The Tribune India

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Cut legal jargon

Simple language a must for better decision-making

Cut legal jargon


Justice Sanjiv Khanna, a Supreme Court judge, used the platform of the International Lawyers’ Conference to speak for the huge legion of litigants as he advocated that the language of law should be simple. He was expanding on what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had highlighted while inaugurating the conference: efforts were afoot to draft laws in a straightforward manner and in regional languages. The issue strikes a chord with every harried commoner fighting for justice as he finds himself confounded by the legalese complicating his ‘simple’ case.

The law should be comprehensible as rules and regulations apply to almost everything in our daily lives. Interestingly, Justice Khanna also observed, ‘This equally applies to our decisions and judgments.” People would be better placed to take informed decisions if the laws and legal contracts or other documents were structured in a simpler manner. Rather than communicating with easy-to-understand phraseology, legal practitioners tend to follow the traditional route ad infinitum. They pepper their arguments often needlessly with Latin usages which are ab initio ultra vires, leaving clients clueless. While people generally put their signatures on papers without fully grasping the content, it is fraught with the possibility of the case leading to a prolonged dispute.

But thankfully, times are changing and the number of votaries of Justice Khanna’s line of thought is rising. Globally, there is a realisation of the importance of shunning verbiage. Last year, New Zealand passed the Plain Language Act to remove legal jargon from its bureaucratic system. Australia and the UK, too, have prescribed simple-worded laws in certain everyday contexts related to consumers. India should follow suit as ignorance of the law or being unaware of its content is no excuse for violating it.

#Narendra Modi #Supreme Court


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