Legislating to communicate: Plain English guidelines explicated using the USA Patriot Act 2001
AbstractIn Lifting the Fog of Legalese, Joseph Kimble offered a set of guidelines for writing in clearer language. He does not provide a method for the interpretation and grammatical analysis of those guidelines. This article provides that analysis. Examples are taken from the USA Patriot Act 2001 to explicate and validate them and to assess whether that Act is expressed clearly, simply, and precisely. It was found that that Act contained some long and syntactically complicated sentences which result from the unnecessary adherence to the single provision/single sentence structure. If adherence to this structure were abandoned, comprehension could be enhanced and the legislation made more accessible to lawyers and lay persons alike.
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