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Govt should consider reforming the language of legislation

Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, is today (Thursday) urging the Government to consider simplifying the language used in legislation to make Bills and Acts more reader-friendly to those from outside the legal profession.

“During the debate on the Legal Services Regulation Bill, I congratulated the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, on introducing a modern, flexible, forward thinking review of the Irish legal system which will take it out of the 19th century and more suitable to the needs of a 21st century society. However, I did suggest that he considers expanding this review of the legal system to deal with the overuse of indecipherable legal jargon in legislation.

“On reading the Legal Services Regulation Bill in preparation for the debate, I encountered one sentence in Section 39 which consisted of 218 words. Not only is this sentence difficult to read, it is also virtually impossible to understand when considered in full.

“I appreciate that legal terminology is required to ensure that legislation is water tight and not open to undue misinterpretation. But I also feel that to make the legal and the political system more accessible to the general public, the wording of legislation should be more consumer-friendly. Coincidently, today a local businessman contacted me about a piece of legislation which directly impacts on his business, which he couldn’t understand in full.

“The Legal Services Regulation Bill will ensure increased transparency and provide the consumer with a more competitive service. This is to be widely welcomed. It fulfils a commitment in the Programme for Government and adheres to the conditions imposed by the Troika. I hope that the Minister will take on board my suggestion about the wording of legislation and continue to introduce further proactive measures to bring the legal system into the 21st century.”