Saturday, April 17, 2010

Write simply

In our mandatory continuing legal education, the importance of writing good, correct English was highlighted.
The correct way to write and communicate effectively is to write in very simple English (emphasis on "very").
The legal profession is not insulated from people who fail to communicate effectively.
I am not even referring to lawyers.
There are even judges who cannot communicate their decisions effectively.
As a result, their decisions cannot be understood.
One example discussed in the continuing legal education, is that judge whom the court took to task for his manner of writing a decision.
The Supreme Court was apparently pissed of with the judge's writing style, to the extent that the high court quoted verbatim a significant portion of the judge's decision.
It was indeed, horrific.
In the case of Leonor versus Court of Appeals [256 SCRA 69 (1996)], a horrified Supreme Court noted the following portion of a lower court decision:

"This is an action for 'Cancellation of Entry in the Civil Registry' particularly on the marriage contract of one Mauricio Leonor, Jr. and Virginia Amor supposedly to have taken place in a long distance past on March 13, 1960 and after a Rip Van Winkle sleep and dormancy liken to a Mt. Pinatubo explosion that rocked the peace and quiet in the lives of the supposedly participants to this drama in Calatrava and San Carlos City, Negros Occidental when out of the blue one party in the person of an aggrieved left-behind spouse revived and revealed an ancient piece of marital bond between her and a reluctant spouse."

The high court did not mince words in describing the decision.
It described the lower court decision as a "crude attempt at literary sophistication."
The high court criticized its "jarring syntax and grammatical inconsistencies."
It decried the use of "convoluted language."
Need I say more?
Its nice to go back to the basic advice in writing well: K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple...Stupid.

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