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THE FIGHT against gobbledygook in legal writing is being led by a woman who once thought compensation was what made wallpaper peel.
Chrissie Maher OBE founded the Plain English Campaign, which has released a plain English guide to legal writing, Language on Trial.
Maher, who was semi-literate until the age of 14, was saved from lifelong difficulty by her first employer paying for her to learn to read. Now she questions the legal profession’s fondness for pompous words like aforementioned, herein, thereto and witnesseth, saying they can be dangerously vague.
She refers to a case in California, where enough money to build a small hospital was spent trying to determine whether “herein” referred to a whole statute or only one section.
Published by Robson books, the book outlines the historical influences that have shaped legal language and offers practical guidelines to help lawyers express themselves clearly.