hot food and coffee warnings were written very complexly, in
order to, ironically, limit restaurant liability toward customers.
Siegel, a leading consultant in the Plain English movement and head of
New York firm specializing in language simplification, explains
legal documents were so complicated in the past. According to Siegel, they
"feature verbose protective clauses accumulated over the years in an
to cover all possible contingencies. Many of these provisions
no practical value in the consumer marketplace." Thus, Siegel
why the legal version of the English language has become so complex.
By simplifying the word usage of this type of language, consumers
understand documents they read.
Take a look at the next WILD example of legalese. This one is part of a case involving the Citibank note.
the event of default in the payment of this or any other Obligation or
the performance or observance of any term or covenant contained herein
or in any note or other contract
or agreement evidencing or relating to any Obligation or any
Collateral on the Borrower's part to be performed
or observed; or the undesigned Borrower shall die; or any of the
become insolvent or make an assignment for the benefit of creditors; or
petition shall be filed by or against any of the undersigned under any
of the Bankruptcy Act; or any money, securities or property of the
now or hereafter on deposit with or in the possession or under the
of the Bank shall be attached or become subject to distraint
proceedings or any order of process of any court;
or the Bank shall deem itself to be insecure, then and in any
event, the Bank shall have the right (at its option), without demand or
of any kind, to declare all or any part of theObligations to be immediately due and payable...
|Default I'll be in default---
| 1. If I don't pay an installment on time, or
|2. If any other creditor
tries by legal process to take any money of mine in your possession.
Clearly, any logical being should
in a maze of confusion trying to rely on the information in the first
example. A massive
overhaul of this type of language is needed in order to really convey
its point to the consumer in a way that he/she can understand.
Today, some eating establishments are moving toward using
simplified warnings, such as "HOT COFFEE" or "HOT PLATE" for drink and
food they serve to their customers. Liability statutes use to be very lengthy, and some still are. However, by using the Plain English Movement, customers are able to understand what food establishments are liable or not.
Alan Siegel's The Plain English Movement, explains how this movement is necessary in today's world.
has been argued that the fault lies with consumers, or with the educational
system that does not train them to cope with with legalese, or accounting, or insurance terminology. But that argument
is neither reasonable nor realistic. In fact, documents meant for consumers have been made much more
difficult than they really need to be. Redressing the balance--- making sure that the documents consumers are
expected to understand are made understandable--- is a matter of simple fairness, and simple efficiency. In the
long run it's in the interests of business as well as the consumer. (Alan Siegel 1981)
Complicated legalistic terminology serves to help reduce
civil litigation claims by its fancy wording, even in restaurants.
However, the importance of the Plain English Movement is necessary in order for more people--both the consumer and the industry--to understand
the liability issues in restaurants. Hopefully, they will be able to
understand the frivolous nature of many of these suits and only file suit
for monies which should be legitimately claimed.
Click here to see some of the frivolous claims against companies throughout the nation.