How to Exploit a Sample Clause in Class

The clause is, for example, a standard indemnity clause like this one below:

Licensee shall indemnify and hold harmless the Licensor, its affiliates and their respective officers, directors and employees from and against all costs, expenses, damages, claims, obligations and liabilities whatsoever from facts or circumstances not attributable to the Licensor including, but not limited to, all costs arising out of the acts or defaults, whether negligent or not, of the Licensee, Licensee’s agents, sub-contractors and employees.

A sample of an authentic clause can be exploited to practise various skills. The first stage may be the selection the terms of art and other legalese words for paraphrasing. This can be done by the teacher or by the students themselves to raise their awareness of the essential features of legal texts. I have bolded the terms of art, examples of legalese and words typical of the language of contracts which I consider significant in the clause above.

Next, the students can be asked to translate the text into their native language to make sure they understand what the clause deals with and really means.

Afterwards, the students write a paraphrase or a summary of the clause using plain English and their own words. Here attention is drawn to the features of plain language, i.e. word order, the length of the sentences, the use of tabulation, linking words, correct punctuation, eliminating nominalisations and the abuse of the passive voice, accuracy, etc.

The paraphrase or the summary can be prepared in a form of an email/letter sent to a client, who needs the clarification of the said clause.

In order to improve speaking the clause can be paraphrased orally in a form of a simulated lawyer-client interview.

Additionally, students can think of potential problems the clause may give rise to when the obligations it contains are or are not carried out.

There are many websites where sample contract clauses may be found, e.g. http://agreementforms.org/.

Kolokacje

Osoby uczące się prawniczego języka angielskiego na pewno rozumieją ogrom wysiłku, jaki należy włożyć w naukę kolokacji…

Słownik Języka Polskiego PWN definiuje związki wyrazowe, czyli tak zwane kolokacje, jako „często spotykane połączenia wyrazów, których znaczenie wynika ze znaczenia ich składników”. W języku angielskim kolokacje mogą składać się z różnej liczby i różnych rodzajów wyrazów. Najprostszy podział wyodrębnia sześć rodzajów kolokacji: przymiotnik + rzeczownik (wrongful dismissal), (podmiot-) rzeczownik + czasownik (court ruled), rzeczownik + rzeczownik (piece of advice), przysłówek + przymiotnik (summarily tried), czasownik + przysłówek (severely criticize) i czasownik + (dopełnienie-) rzeczownik (receive a salary).

Aby nieco skomplikować sprawę można dodatkowo podzielić grupę czasownik + rzeczownik na dwie bardziej szczegółowe: czasownik + rzeczownik (make a decision) i czasownik + przyimek + rzeczownik (come to a decision).

Aby sprawę skomplikować już całkowicie możemy dodać więcej przyimków do angielskich kolokacji i utworzyć kolejne kategorie: rzeczownik + przyimek (interest in), przyimek + rzeczownik (on demand) i przymiotnik + przyimek (worth of), które stanowią tak zwane kolokacje gramatyczne. Znajomy doktorant próbował w swojej pracy badawczej policzyć wyrażenia przyimkowe występujące w tekstach wykorzystywanych w nauce języka prawniczego i uzyskał wynik… 290.

Tworzenie kolokacji w przeciwieństwie do zasad gramatyki nie podlega żadnym jasno sprecyzowanym regułom. Pewne słowa występują razem tylko dlatego, że w takim połączeniu używa się ich od dawna. Trudno jest wyjaśnić, dlaczego w języku angielskim organizując przyjęcie mówimy „to throw, hold, have a party” a nie „to make a party”. Podobnie w języku prawniczym użyjemy wyrażenia „to break the law” mówiąc o łamaniu prawa, ale już „to breach a contract” mając na myśli naruszenie warunków umowy i „to infringe a copyright” odnosząc się do naruszenia praw autorskich. Opanowanie i znajomość kolokacji jest zatem jednym z najtrudniejszych aspektów procesu uczenia się języka prawniczego i jest dużym wyzwaniem dla słuchaczy.

Część kolokacji w języku prawniczym jest stosunkowo elastyczna i niektóre czasowniki, przysłówki lub przymiotniki mogą być zastąpione ich synonimami bez zmiany znaczenia danego związku wyrazowego. Na przykład w wyrażeniu „to settle a dispute” czasownik „to settle” można zastąpić czasownikiem „to resolve” i nie spowoduje to zmiany znaczenia całej frazy.

Istnieje jednak grupa kolokacji typowych dla branżowego języka prawniczego, które powstały w wyniku wieloletniej tradycji. Są to wyrażenia, które były używane przez pokolenia prawników, przekazywane z pokolenia na pokolenie w tekstach, często bardzo niepoprawnych gramatycznie, składniowo i interpunkcyjnie. To jednak w oparciu o te teksty kształciły się kolejne roczniki prawników i wykorzystywały pewne, utarte i utrwalone przez tradycję wyrażenia i zwroty mówiąc o konkretnych zagadnieniach, zjawiskach i elementach procesu prawnego. Użycie innych wyrażeń i zwrotów wprowadziłoby dwuznaczność i niejasność. Dlatego też, w procesie nauczania i uczenia się angielskiego języka prawniczego tak bardzo ważne jest rozwijanie znajomości specjalistycznego słownictwa ze szczególnym naciskiem na kolokacje, gdyż mają one wpływ nie tylko na płynność wypowiedzi, ale również świadczą o profesjonalizmie użytkownika. Zwolennik prostego angielskiego Rupert Haigh ilustruje powyższe zagadnienie przykładami kolokacji (czasownik + rzeczownik) używanymi do określenia zakończenia różnorodnych procesów, spraw, zdarzeń w obrębie prawa:  „annul marriage/contract”, „cancel order/meeting/appointment”, „discharge obligation/duty/invoice/contract/from liability”, „dismiss application/employee/appeal”, „repeal law/statute”, „repudiate contract”, „rescind contract”, „revoke order/power of attorney/ permission/authorization”, „terminate contract/employment”, „withdraw  offer/permission/support”.

Powyższe przykłady pokazują jak ogromnym wyzwaniem jest dążenie do poprawności językowej w procesie uczenia się języka prawniczego, co z kolei jest jedną z najważniejszych umiejętności oczekiwanych przez pracodawców. Badanie przeprowadzone przez Catherine Mason z wydawnictwa Global Legal English wśród największych międzynarodowych kancelarii prawniczych, tzw. magicznego kręgu, w 2010 roku potwierdziło, że doskonała znajomość języka angielskiego jest jednym z najważniejszych kryteriów rekrutacyjnych. Badania cytowane powyżej pokazują, że wyrażenia przyimkowe są bardzo istotnym elementem języka prawniczego i mogą być źródłem wielu nieścisłości jak chociażby w wyrażeniu „submit your offer WITHIN 7 days” (w ciągu 7 dni, tj. któregokolwiek dnia przed upływem 7 dni) i „submit your offer IN 7 days” (za 7 dni, tj. w siódmym dniu licząc od dzisiaj). Innym przykładem jest zrozumienie różnicy pomiędzy „draft the contract BY 5 o’clock” (napisać/skończyć pisanie do godz. 5.00) i ,,draft the contract UNTIL 5 o’clock” (pisać do godz. 5.00).

Jeśli są Państwo zainteresowani rozwijaniem swojej znajomości prawniczego języka angielskiego zachęcam do korzystania z, opracowanych przeze mnie i moich studentów z Akademii Leona Koźmińskiego, gotowych, darmowych fiszek dostępnych wraz z ćwiczeniami na stronie http://www.memrise.com/user/LegalEnglish/courses/teaching/ oraz na urządzeniach mobilnych po zainstalowaniu aplikacji memrise (iPhone i Android).

The Legal English Manual – a Review

The Legal English Manual

by Alison Wiebalck, Clemens von Zedtwitz,

Richard Norman and Kathrin Weston Walsh

Manz, C.H. Beck, Helbing Lichtenhahn 2013

A new manual on legal English, by four authors all of whom are qualified legal professional with either British, American or Swiss background, comes from C.H.Beck in cooperation with Manz and Helbing Lichtenhahn.

The manual is not a traditional legal English coursebook. The first and the main part of the manual is a glossary book which presents legal terminology for fourteen areas of law in a form of short texts which explain the most important topics of the law and present the legal terms of art in context, usually Anglo-American but with some references made to Swiss law.

The practice areas include: contract law, tort law, company law, employment law, family law, inheritance law, insurance law, intellectual property law, competition law, civil procedure, arbitration, bankruptcy, tax law and criminal law. This cross-sectional approach makes the manual a useful tool for legal English learners who wish to quickly grasp the legal terms in a nutshell, revise material they have already covered in a legal English course or prepare for legal English examinations since the content of the manual corresponds with the syllabi of the most recognizable legal English examinations  (e.g. TOLES).

Each of the fourteen areas of law is organized in the same pattern. First the key legal terms are presented and used in a text clarifying various legal issues. Then the use of the most important terms is illustrated with some authentic samples of texts showing how the terms are used by lawyers. Later three or four definitions of the most representative terms in each area are provided and finally at the end of each section there is a collocations corner.

From the methodological point of view such organization of the book content has certain advantages, since it:

  • presents the most important legal English vocabulary in context in one book
  • uses plain English which reflects the current trends in linguistics and law
  • clearly explains the intricacies of the law in short notes loaded with the terms of art
  • shows how to clearly define sometimes complex legal terms
  • stresses the importance of collocations.

The texts contained in the manual can be of help not only for legal English learners but also for teachers who can use the them in a variety of ways to revise the language already taught for example in a form of short dictoglosses (i.e. classroom dictations in which students are asked to reconstruct a text after they listening and noting down key words only).

The only drawback which I have spotted so far is the lack of alphabetical index at the end of the manual which could help the users find a specific term in the book faster and without much effort.

The consecutive two parts of the book concentrate on the development of writing and speaking skills, while the last part is an overview of plain English and contains a short history of this linguistic phenomenon and the rules for writing plain which I myself strongly promote.

The second, legal writing part is definitely useful, since not many coursebooks teach legal writing. The manual clarifies the issue of register transfer by opposing informal and formal language for correspondence. Besides it contains a vast collection of standard phrases and templates for a legal memorandum, a letter to opposing counsel, a letter to a client and a reply letter agreeing and declining a request for documents or information.

The part of the manual for oral communication contains an incredibly rich collection of phrases and expressions for oral advocacy, oral negotiation, client interview and job interview.

I recommend the manual as a self-study book for all learners of legal English and as a supplementary material for any legal English course to be used in the class for presentation or revision of legal vocabulary, teaching paraphrasing, defining and collocations, for developing writing skill and preparation for speaking tasks.

 

New Legal English Handbook from Hart Publishing

Common Law Legal English and Grammar

A Contextual Approach

Alison Riley and Patricia Sours

emma

Lord Denning, an influential but controversial English judge, stated that ‚Words are the lawyer’s tools of trade’. This course book reflects that conviction as it focuses on words, the language of the law – legal terms, expressions, and grammar – introduced systematically with relevant aspects of the law, and examined in context through analytical reading activities based on original legal texts selected for their interest and importance in different branches of the common law system. This book explores constitutional law, criminal law, tort, and contract; yet includes international legal contexts, with a particular focus on human rights and European law.

The presentation of legal concepts and terminology in context in each chapter is graded so that the course progresses, building on the vocabulary and law encountered in earlier chapters. Each chapter, organized thematically, includes a series of activities – tasks – to complete, yet the book does not presuppose previous knowledge of legal English or of the common law: full answer keys and reflective commentary on both legal and linguistic aspects are given and sections marked ‚Advanced’ offer especially challenging materials. Consolidation sections are designed to test students’ global comprehension of the legal texts analysed, including precise usage of legal vocabulary in context, with solutions.

Common Law Legal English and Grammar is addressed to the non-native speaker of English, and in particular, intermediate to advanced students who are studying law, or academics with a professional interest in Anglo-American law. Practising lawyers will also find that the book offers valuable analysis of the language of legal documents.

Please note, this book is not available for purchase in Italy.

The Authors

Alison Riley is Lecturer in Legal English at the University of Ferrara.

Patricia Sours is Lecturer in Legal English at the University of Padua.

Book Details

June 2014   528pp   Pbk   9781849465762  £25 / €32.50

HOW TO ORDER

If you would like to place an order you can do so through the Hart Publishing website (link below).

http://www.hartpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?ISBN=9781849465762

Alternatively please contact Hart Publishing’s Distributor, Macmillan Distribution Ltd by telephone or e-mail

Address: Macmillan Distribution (MDL), Brunel Road, Houndmills, Basingstoke, RG21 6XS, UK

Telephone Number: 01256 32924

Email: export@macmillan.co.uk

Website: www.hartpub.co.uk

Hart Publishing Ltd. is registered in England No. 3307205

Hart Publishing Ltd. is an Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc

Garner the Plain English Guru

In Legal Writing in Plain English. A Text with Exercises Garner (2001) draws up a comprehensive list of principles for plain English writing including legal writing, analytical and persuasive writing, legal drafting, document design and continued improvement. The exercises accompanying the book can be accessed on http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/garner/. All these exercises are based on authentic excerpts of legal writing which are used as a basis for paraphrasing, redrafting and editing in plain English.

Most of these principles help develop the transferable abilities typical of writing which might constitute the scaffolding for the future development of the writing skill irrespective of the purpose. Plain English is considered the equivalent of good English writing. Therefore, the guidelines for writing in plain English should be included in each writing course, since they comprise the rules for producing well structured, comprehensible and concise texts.

According to Garner (2001) the skills which law students and graduates need to develop if they wish to draft texts in plain English include:

1. Planning:

  • using a nonlinear, whirlybird (i.e. resembling the mind map) approach is recommended for lawyers;
  • arranging the material in a logical sequence, e.g. using chronology when presenting facts;
  • dividing the documents into sections, and sections into smaller parts;
  • adding headings for the sections and subsections.

2. Paragraphing and organizing writing:

  • beginning each paragraph with a topic sentence;
  • linking paragraphs and signposting within paragraphs;
  • limiting the length of paragraphs to 3-8 sentences/150 words;
  • knowing the reader – an ordinary person and not a sophisticated lawyer;
  • applying correct punctuation.

3. Phrasing and paraphrasing (legalese into plain English):

  • avoiding verbosity; reducing the average length of a sentence to 20 words;
  • relying on S-V-O word order;
  • favouring active over passive voice;
  • creating lists with parallel phrasing for parallel ideas;
  • avoiding multiple negatives;
  • understanding legalese but replacing it with plain English alternatives, e.g. “hereinafter Seller” with “the Seller”, “prior to” with “before”, “in the event that” with “if”;
  • minimizing the use of „to be”, e.g. court is in agreement, fines are dependent, judge is of the opinion…;
  • avoiding nouns created from verbs, e.g. conduct an examination of, make provision for, take into consideration…;
  • shortening wordy phrases, e.g. “a number of” to “many”, “at the time when” to “when”, “subsequent to” to “after”, “the majority of” to “most”.

Mad Man on Writing

Since not only law students need writing skills, others following business English courses might find the advice of David Ogilvy – an iconic businessman and original “Mad Man” – convincing:

  1. The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.
  2. Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.
  3. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:
  4. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  5. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  6. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  7. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  8. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  9. Check your quotations.
  10. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
  11. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  12. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  13. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

Source: Oglivy, D. (2012). The Unpublished David Ogilvy. London: Profile Books Ltd.