Plain Language Awards

Celebrate the stories of our clearest business communicators

Winner: Best Plain English Document — Public Sector / Non-Government Organisation (NGO) 2015

Commerce Commission

Sponsor Razia Ali ( with Mayuresh Prasad

Document name

Borrowing money or buying goods on credit: Know your rights

Judges’ comment

The purpose of this brochure is very clear upfront, and it’s also clear who should read it.

You’ve covered a lot of fairly complex content in an easy-to-read way, and you’ve pointed readers to where they can get more information if they need it. Well done for skilfully handling a dry topic.

Your question headings work really well. They help the reader navigate and they echo likely questions someone entering into a contract might have.

The language you’ve used is clear and plain. You’ve taken care to use the active voice, and you consistently address the reader as ‘you’.

The direct and personal style of this brochure makes it a great exemplar of plain English. Well done.

Media statement

The Commerce Commission is pleased to be a winner in the 2015 Plain English Awards in the Best Plain English Document — Public Sector / NGO category.

‘We know that clear communication about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it is critical to our success as an organisation. Which is why over the last few years we have put a lot of effort into making sure we communicate more effectively with New Zealanders,’ said Brent Alderton, Chief Executive.

The Commission has made plain English an everyday part of its work and all staff are provided with intensive plain English training.

‘We are now publishing documents that are clearer and easier to read. Plain English has become embedded in our culture,’ said Mr Alderton.

The Borrowing money or buying goods on credit: Know your rights brochure was developed to help borrowers understand what their key rights are under consumer credit legislation, which changed in June this year. The Commission felt it was important that New Zealanders who borrow money or buy goods on credit know what their rights are. The brochure also provides key information such as what to expect from your lender, what costs you will have to pay, how to get out of a contract, and what happens when you have trouble making repayments.

‘We have tried to make the language in the brochure practical and easy to understand, and based around common questions a borrower might have. We have also produced the brochure in a number of other languages, recognising the diversity of New Zealanders. The feedback we have had from community agencies using the brochures with their clients has been really positive and clearly shows the difference they are making in explaining credit law,’ Mr Alderton said.