Don’t use three words when one will do

Many disclaimers (found in terms & conditions and small print) contain far too many words and are jam-packed with technical legal terms.

This one is typical but comes from the GOV.UK website. These are well-written and surprisingly readable T&C.

Guarantees, conditions or warranties

The disclaimer starts by stating that the site owners try to keep the site up-to-date and says:

…we don’t provide any guarantees, conditions or warranties that the information will be current, secure, accurate, complete, free from bugs or viruses

Very few readers of these T&C will understand the subtle difference and legal distinction between a guarantee, condition and warranty (and frankly it’s not that important for the terms of a website).

What they mean is:

We can’t promise that this site’s information is 100% current, secure, accurate, complete, or free from bugs or viruses.

Historically, lawyers used multiple words to ensure the court would interpret their contracts exactly as they were intended, covering all possible nuances. The result is wordy, technical documents which very few people can read and fewer still can understand.

What should you do?

Don’t use three words, when one will do.

And that’s true whether you are a lawyer or not, as we recently found out in the Parkwood case [read more].


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