ISO/AWI 24495-2 is the second part of the Plain Language series, and today we will have a look at its principles and guidelines. This standard aims to improve written communication in many areas, such as government, medicine, business, law, and more. Following the rules and ideas established in the standard can help organisations improve communication in a more open, practical, and efficient way. 

In the field of law and governance, it is crucial to have documents that are clear and easy to understand. Unfortunately, legal language can often be difficult to decipher, creating barriers for individuals seeking to comprehend and assert their rights. Recognising the importance of this issue, efforts are being made to establish a standard for the use of language in writing and drafting. The goal is to enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of communication. 

This particular standard is commonly known as Plain Language. Currently, the focus is on developing Part 2, which deals explicitly with legal writing and drafting. The aim is to provide authors with guidance and techniques to ensure that individuals affected by these documents can easily understand, exercise and fulfil their rights and obligations. If essential legal information in a document is not easy to find, understand or use, the consequences can be severe enough to threaten someone’s life. 

People’s rights can be violated in many ways if they don’t understand what they’re reading. It can make it more difficult for them to find housing, earn money, deal with the justice system, and make smart decisions about their health and finances. 

Communication problems between businesses and governments can lead to higher costs, less efficiency, less speed, and problems with accountability. Due to their importance, legal and regulatory documents must be written in a clear and easy-to-understand language. It is equally important to be clear when it comes to dealing with the organisation’s money, housing, medical issues, wills, powers of attorney, privacy policies, and terms of use. Other important documents that must be communicated clearly include contracts between people or businesses, court decisions, jury instructions, government forms, and HR policies. 

The forthcoming standard will provide guidance on how to apply the principles outlined in WD 24495-1 to scenarios where authors may need to 

  • communicate with audiences, each with unique requirements 
  • comply with specific formatting and design guidelines 
  • simplify and clarify intricate legal concepts 
  • guide readers through unfamiliar procedures in relation to their rights and legal obligations. 

Its objective is to explain terms and new procedures that readers need to understand in order to exercise their rights or fulfil their legal obligations. 

It is essential to emphasise that the standard is intended to be applicable to many languages and industries in order to communicate legal information effectively in a variety of documents. The project will draw upon an extensive study of legal language and the professional expertise in the field. This will allow for modifications to accommodate legal systems such as those rooted in British Common Law, French Civil Law, or South African Roman Law. 

The standard includes only information on the use of legal language. It excludes podcasts and videos. However, content creators may find the standard interesting and useful. Additionally, the standard doesn’t address accessibility and digital document issues. For these purposes, content creators should consult the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and EN 301 549: Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services. 

To summarise the development of Plain Language, it is worth emphasising that Part 2 – Legal writing and drafting promotes justice. This standard might transform legal discourse by promoting clarity, comprehensibility, and inclusiveness in communication. It keeps the law accessible and upholds justice for all.