The dates on the left indicate the most recent addition or improvement to each page. Green dates highlight recent changes.
I welcome ideas, examples (particularly of ambiguities in legal writing), and debate.
My silence since April arises not from a loss of interest, health, or life. I've been preoccupied with a large project, whose details I'll give in February. But more new material should appear here meanwhile.
William Shakespeare's 1616 will has been added to the selection of wills from the 11th to the 21st centuries.
The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law has now been published as a paperback, the authors having been allowed minor amendments. The £30 list price will make the book much more accessible than the £100 hardback.
I have corrected the link from the menu on the left to Before-and-after examples and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the mistake.
I have joined 3 professional friends — Sarah Carr, Richard Castle, and Nigel Grant — in CLEA (Clear Legal English Associates) to improve our consultancy services.
The link from this page to Drafting Services now works. Apologies for any inconvenience.
An Anglo-Saxon precursor of a modern mutual will has been added to the collection of historical wills under Legal style through the ages. More wills will follow.
I have expanded the introductory page of Legal style through the ages and have added a lightly annotated 1970 will that offers a sharp contrast to the 1854 and 2006 examples.
In an article in this month's issue of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) journal I discuss and suggest a solution to the long-standing mutual wills problem — that is, how to make a pair of mirror wills (for example, "All to each other and then to the children") proof against a defaulting survivor. Courtesy of STEP, the article can be downloaded from my mutual wills page, where there are explanatory notes and a downloadable specimen mutual will.
I have added a new page, Legal style through the ages, under which I have:
The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law, to which I contributed a chapter, now has its own sub-page (accessible from my books and articles as well as from other writers) with new material, including substantial details of the rest of the book and a list of the topics covered in my chapter, The Plain Language Movement.
One of those topics was plain language drafting techniques, which I've slightly amended and given its own main page on this site as writing tips.
Translation tips is another new page, describing how I "translate" from legalese into a dialect as close to standard English as possible.
Some time ago I removed the pages describing my drafting and training services because I wasn't in a position to accept new work. I am now able to take on a limited amount, so have reinstated those pages.
The short note Severing joint tenancies (in the "Updates" section of Clarity for Lawyers, under My publications) has attracted much more interest than I expected, so I've added my explanation to clients about joint tenancies and tenancies in common, one of the precedents offered at the end of the book, to the extracts downloadable from the Clarity for Lawyers page.
As a curiosity, under the title A 6,000-word sentence, I've posted a brief discussion about the exceptional language and now unfamiliar structure of an 1853 conveyance, comparing it to its 1936 and 2013 equivalents as well as to a 19th century "abstract" of the 1853 version. There are links to the full text of each document.
The latest article on the Comment page, Full disclosure, looks at a standard lease clause to examine the relationship between plain language, truth, and frankness, and develops the ideas expressed in an earlier piece, What is plain language (when there's more than one egg on the wall)?, about whether "plain language" is a useful concept.