Editing for plain English: Transforming legalese

Nature of edit  To edit the text into plain English

Type of copy  Disclaimer from a council (in legal language)

Before

Please note
Please note that whilst the council has made every effort to provide accurate information, you need to be aware that material containing asbestos may still be present in your property, which has not been listed on this page.

Please therefore be careful whilst carrying out any repairs or decorating your property, read and follow the advice in this leaflet and contact the council if you have any questions.

The Council does not take any responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the information provided in this document, nor for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience which may arise from the presence of any asbestos in your property, which is not recorded in this leaflet.

After

The Council has done everything it can to give accurate information. However, material containing asbestos may still be present in parts of your property that are not listed above.

So please take care when doing any repairs or decorating your property. Read and follow the advice in this leaflet and contact the council if you have any questions.

The Council is not responsible or liable for:

  • mistakes or missing information in this leaflet, or
  • claims, losses, damage or inconvenience that may arise from any asbestos in parts of your property that are not listed above.

Problem and solution

Editing legal documents into plain English requires special care, as it's important that the end result remains legally watertight. This was reflected in the client's instruction: 'While I am happy with you making the disclaimer easy to read, there must be no change to the legal meaning or implications.'

The example shows that plain-English editing often involves rewriting text completely. The aim is to express the writer's intended meaning as clearly and succinctly as possible for the intended audience.

The editor received the following feedback from the client:

I have run your amendments past my legal team and they are happy with the suggested changes. They confirm that the words are clearer whilst retaining the full meaning that they wanted. Thanks for your help on this one. It is very important and sensitive at this moment.