A contract shouldn’t require a Latin-English dictionary to understand it! In fact, there’s generally no reason to use Latin terms or formal legal language (legalese) at all. Use plain English to be sure the contracts and other documents you’re writing are in a language that the parties can read and understand. Here’s a chart to keep handy next time you’re drafting a legal document (or to discreetly slip to a legalese-laden colleague).
|LEGALESE||PLAIN ENGLISH ALTERNATIVES|
|adequate number of||enough; sufficient|
|all of the parties||all parties|
|and/or||… or… or both|
|as to whether (or not)||whether|
|at the time||when|
|by means of||by; through|
|contiguous to||next to; adjacent to|
|does not operate to||does not|
|during such time as||while|
|for the duration of||during|
|for the purpose of ___ing; with the object of ____ing||to ____|
|for the reason that||because|
|hereby; hereofhereunder; herein||by/of this ___; under this ___; in this ___|
|in case; in the event that||if|
|in lieu of||instead of|
|in many cases||many of; often|
|in order to||to|
|in the last analysis||finally|
|is (un)able to||can(not)|
|it is directed; it is the duty||must; shall|
|it is incumbent on X to||X must; X shall|
|necessity of||need to|
|occasion (as a verb)||cause|
|of a technical nature||technical|
|on the part of||by|
|render (i.e., to give)||give|
|render (i.e., to cause to be)||make|
|take into consideration||consider|
|thereby; thereofthereunder; therein||by that ___; of that ___under that ___; in that ____|
|to the effect that||that|
|under the provisions of; pursuant to||under; in accordance with|
|until such time as||until|
|utilize||use, make use of|
|with respect to||about|
Did you know that using plain English when drafting a contract is not only more effective, but it’s legally required? Under California law the “words of a contract are to be understood in their ordinary and popular sense” unless it’s clear that the parties intended a special or technical meaning. CC §1644; Supervalu, Inc. v Wexford Underwriting Managers, Inc. (2009) 175 CA4th 64, 72.
The drafter should also make sure that technical words are used as commonly understood in the profession or business to which they relate, unless it’s clear that they’re being used in a different sense. CC §1645.
Get more legal writing advice in CEB’s popular program Smith on Legal Writing, available On Demand. On the mechanics of document drafting, turn to CEB’s Drafting Business Contracts: Principles, Techniques and Forms, chapter 1.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
© The Regents of the University of California, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.