Plain English (6)

Om international Plain English Day te vieren, posten wij drie weken geleden een drietal zinnen, genomen uit bestaande juridische documenten (een huwelijkscontract, algemene voorwaarden van autoverhuurbedrijf en een testament).(klik hier). Onze vraag was of de lezers van deze blog dit Legalese konden vertalen in Plain English.

In onze trainingen is er bijna altijd een dunne lijn tussen wat “goed” is en wat “fout” is. Erg vaak is er een groot grijs gebied van dingen die “beter” kunnen. En omdat “goed” en “fout” moeilijk te definiëren zijn, is “beter” ook lastig te omschrijven. Naar aanleiding van onze  blog over het verschil tussen according to en in accordance with bijvoorbeeld (klik hier), kregen we een commentaar of pursuant to niet beter was dan according to. ”Dat ligt er maar aan”, denken we dan; pursuant to is synoniem met according to, dus niet “fout”. Alleen zouden wij voorzichtiger zijn met pursuant to alleen maar omdat dit een ingewikkelder en veel minder gebruikt woord is waarvan de lezer zou kunnen denken “wat betekent dat?”.

En daar heb je het al: “de lezer”. De allereerste gedachte die in een schrijver op moet komen is VOOR WIE schrijf ik eigenlijk? Schrijf ik voor andere juristen? En als ik dat doe, zijn die andere juristen wel Engelstalige juristen? Als het antwoord op die twee vragen JA is, pas dan zouden we zeggen: gebruik gerust persuant to, in alle andere gevallen: gebruik according to. Niet goed, niet fout, maar beter…

Onze zinnen uit de vorige Plain English blog: Wij geven eerst de opgaven (die dus niet “fout” zijn….) en vervolgens een aantal inzendingen van lezers, gevolgd door een     mogelijke oplossing (die dus “beter” zijn).

(Sentence 1). In the occurrence of the vehicle’s non performance through breakdown the owners must at their own expense effect the collection of the said vehicle and attend to performing the necessary repairs thereto.

  • (Entry 1.1) If the vehicle breaks down the owners must pay for its collection and consequently make sure the necessary repairs are taken care of.
    (Remark) Definitely greatly improved. However, your sentence lacks punctuation (comma) and ‘taken care of’ is maybe a little too informal and vague.
  • (Entry 1.2) If your rented vehicle has broken down we shall tow it away to a garage and repair it.
    (Remark) You have misused ‘shall’ here. Strictly speaking, ‘shall’ can only be used with ‘I’ and ‘we’ and its misuse is often unclear. This is of the golden rules of Plain English. (zie Blog klik hier)
  • (Entry 1.3) In case of a defect to the car, we (the lessor) will collect the car and take care of the necessary repairs.
    (Remark) Use “If” instead of “in case of” (zie Blog klik hier)
  • (Our suggestion 1) If the car breaks down the owners must collect and fix it at their own expense

(Sentence 2) I reserve to myself the right from time to time and at all times hereafter to make all such alterations in and additions to this my Will as I think fit, either by separate act or at the foot hereof, desiring that all such alterations or additions so made under my own signature shall be held as valid and effectual as if inserted herein.

  • (Entry 2.1) All alterations made to my Will are only applicable and valid if I have these signed and dated.
    (Remark) Very good – but just a small word order change: if these are signed and dated. Your use of ‘have these signed’ insinuates that it has to be done by a third party which is not what the original text stipulates.
  • (Entry 2.2) I reserve the right to make changes to this Will at any time, either in this Will or separately. In both cases such change will be a part of this Will.
    (Remark) Excellent!!
  • (Our suggestion 2) I always have the right to change my Will or add to it if I choose. I can do so at the bottom or on a separate document. Any changes or additions will be as if they were originally included. They will be valid and have the same effect as long as they have my signature.

(Sentence 3) Upon all which terms and conditions the said Appearers declared it to be their intention to forthwith solemnize the said intended marriage, mutually promising to allow each other the full force and effect thereof under obligation of their persons and property, each to the other according to the Law.

  • (Entry 3.1) The Appearers declare they would like to solemnize their intended marriage in order to ensure a full legal administration on eachother’s assets and liabilities.
    (Remark) Well done. But ‘eachother’s assets’ is a tad sloppy. Why not use ‘mutual assets’
  • (Entry 3.2) In view of the above, the parties declare that they intend to get married, while accepting all legal consequences thereof, immediately after signing this agreement.
    (opmerking) Good. But this extract contains a confusing mix of informal (get) and archaic (thereof) styles.
  • (Our suggestion 3) The parties confirmed that they intend to proceed with their marriage. They agree to be bound by all the terms and conditions of this contract according to the law.

Met dank aan alle inzenders!!!

1 thought on “Plain English (6)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *