Clear Drafting Doesn’t Involve Dumbing-Down

I was recently reminded of the following, from a work on contract drafting:

Effective writing consists of clear communication of the subject matter to its intended audience. The audience for commercial contracts is sophisticated business people and their lawyers. The notion that complex commercial contracts should be written in plain English, so as to be understood by people who would never be expected to read them is an unreasonable extension of the plain English movement.

The notion that business contracts should be written so they’re understood by the person in the street is a straw man: I’ve never heard anyone suggest that this should be a goal of clear, modern drafting.

The problem with traditional contract drafting isn’t that consumers can’t understand it. Instead, the problem is that traditional contract drafting is so defective that it causes companies to waste lots of time and money and assume unnecessary risk.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.