The article trying to explain '' Why legal writing is so awful '' [ June 3rd ] missed a big factor : the language used in court decisions.

Complicated language may be the reason why a contractual term ends-up being litigated, but once the court has made its decision its meaning, no matter how tortured the language, is set in stone.

No lawyer will run the risk of using simpler, untested language, especially if the wording touches areas of law that are complicated.

The interpretation of contractual indemnities illustrates this. After the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 there were bitter legal fights as to who should carry the can, some of which resolved around the precise meaning of indemnities [ promises to pay out or not to sue ] in the contracts between Occidental, the operator of the oil platform,  and various service providers.

The court decided, the meaning was settled and the exact same wording is still used 35 years on.

The World Students Society thanks author David Roper, Solicitor, Alford, Aberdeenshire.


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