Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

It’s legal, but not as we once knew it

Taking a fresh approach to legal writing with the Best Plain English Legal Document

Legal documents are changing. Once densely written, peppered with Latin, and strictly formatted, today’s legal documents are much more reader-friendly.

We’re all readers of legal documents. And we all appreciate clearly written documents that state the necessary information without resorting to legalese. Preferably, we want to be able to read the document and understand it easily.  This means we can discuss the content with our legal advisor or a colleague, without having to rely on someone else to explain it first.

A fresh approach to legal

When we’re signing a contract, entering an agreement, or deciding who we’ll leave our worldly goods to, legal documents in plain English make each party’s obligations clear.

The Best Plain English Legal Document award recognises this fresh approach to legal documents. The judges will be looking for examples of legal writing that consider the reader’s needs rather than the writer’s. These are the documents that clearly and succinctly explain, streamline, and structure legal content that could otherwise be confusing to a non-legally-trained person.

Here’s what the judges praised in last year’s winner and finalist entries.

About the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017 (Parliamentary Counsel Office)

Parliamentary Counsel Office did a great job of combining multiple Acts that were a confusing hodgepodge of legislation into a single intelligible Act.

A clear understanding of the audience and consultation with these groups made the project stronger. The explanations in the legislation were particularly useful.

The revised Act is a great step forward in New Zealand for plain English legislation. And the intended audience has a much clearer picture of contractual law in New Zealand.

About the Property Sharing Agreement (Cavell Leitch)

Cavell Leitch has shown a commitment to improving the clarity of a consumer-focused contract. Significant steps have been taken to improve the language.

The judges are looking forward to seeing what this year’s entries will bring.

Enter your fresh legal document here