According to this Thomson Reuter’s Blog Legalese is “a colloquial term describing the body of formal and technical legal language that is difficult or impossible for laypeople to understand.” It is ridiculously common but can you avoid it when writing your contract?

No-one needs legalese

In this introduction to a set of terms and conditions for LeftOverSwap (since defunct), the site owners were brutally honest with their site users:

Legalese: We have no clue what this says. But a lawyer friend said to include it. We have no intention of this ever needing to be referenced, however it supposedly protects us from stupid people

At least they have recognised the definition of legalese given above and admit that their T&C are difficult or impossible for both them and their readers to understand. But how will this clause make them feel?

  • The site user: anyone who starts to read these T&C might be offended and stop reading after the reference to them being ‘stupid people’. So the user is left not knowing the conditions of use.
  • The site owner: spending time and money on uploading T&C which, by your own admission, you don’t understand seems reckless. So the owner may know, but does not understand, the conditions of use either.

Neither the site owners nor the users will read, use or pay any attention to these T&C.  Although this introduction is intended to be light-hearted, why bother using legalese at all?

What should you do?

You can just write what you need in terms that are simple for you and your reader to understand. Simples!

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