Sharing two pieces aimed at native speakers and those fluent in legalese as a second language. Sharing with us common people - because, if we have trouble understanding, could it be from sabotage of sense at the sender's end?
Have you ever become frustrated when you tried to understand a court record or other legal document? Were you so confused and uncertain of its meaning that you had to pay a lawyer to figure it out? You and I may not like jargon-ridden, convoluted language, but the legal profession thrives on it.
Use of gobbledygook in legal documents is a long-standing tradition. It promotes contradictions, ambiguities and vagueness, which result in misunderstandings, differences of interpretation, disagreements—and costly lawsuits. We weren’t surprised to learn that even where documents other than regulations are concerned, federal agency employees often report that lawyers frustrate their attempts to implement plain language. http://www.informationmapping.com/en/resources/blog/entry/another-reason-why-we-dont-need-plain-language
Could this qualify as unintended consequence, as a professional conflict of interest, or as perverse incentives? How big is the risk to impartiality? Are they Forbidden to care? You decide.
Plain language would reduce litigation by preventing the unnecessary confusion that traditional legal writing produces.
We are told that litigation will occur with or without legalese because the essence of law is in the legal interpretation of meaning.(75) To say that, though, is to ignore the unnecessary litigation that poor legal drafting produces.
In gauging what we can and cannot prevent, we need to be clear about the difference between vagueness and ambiguity. The law depends to a large extent on vague terms, like good cause or reasonable person or gross negligence. In fact, nearly all terms are vague to some degree; they will always present some uncertainty at the margins, some uncertainty about how they might apply to peculiar facts. (Does highway include the shoulder? and so on, endlessly.) Ambiguity, on the other hand, presents an either-or choice, a choice between alternative meanings. Ambiguity is almost always unintended and almost always a sin, but it's always preventable.
Consider just one example.