Lawyer ‘begs’ for simple language instead of pompous, verbose, legal jargon

If you have been subjected to the in incomprehensible ‘exchange of words” in a courtroom argument or a legal draft, you are forgiven. A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the Department of Justice to issue guides/handbooks in plain English and regional languages -- easily understandable by laymen. The idea is to explain the law and procedure for vindication of rights and redressal of grievances under the law.

The plea filed by advocate Subhash Vijayran said the writing of most lawyers is wordy, unclear, pompous and dull, as they use eight words, instead of two, to say something. "We use arcane phrases to express commonplace ideas. Seeking to be precise, we become redundant. Seeking to be cautious, we become verbose. Our writing is teemed with legal jargon & legalese. And the story goes on", said the plea.

The plea contended as a consequence of this complexity, the common man neither understands the system nor the laws. “Everything is so complicated and confusing. The way laws are enacted, practiced and administered in our country violates the fundamental rights of the masses by denying them - access to justice,” the plea said.

In many countries, laws mandate that public agencies use plain language to increase access to programs and services, said the plea. The PIL argues that the legislature should enact precise and unambiguous laws, and in plain language. "A guide in plain English and in vernacular of the laws of general public interest should be issued by the Government - explaining the law and its application - in easy to understand language. Further, all rules, regulations, notifications, communications etc, drafted and issued by all branches of the Government - that are of general public interest - should be in plain language", said the plea.

“Lawyers need to put in extra efforts to make their pleadings clear, crisp, concise & accurate. A page limit for pleadings and time limit for oral arguments should be imposed,” said the plea. It also sought direction to the Bar Council of India to introduce a mandatory subject of "Legal Writing in Plain English" in the 3-year and 5-year LL.B. courses.

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