Cautioning the careless writer : the importance of accurate and ethical legal writing

Van Der Merwe, Stephan (2014-12)

CITATION: Van der Merwe, S. 2014. Cautioning the careless writer: The importance of accurate and ethical legal writing. Journal for Juridical Science, 39(2):23-52.

The original publication is available at http://reference.sabinet.co.za.ez.sun.ac.za/document/EJC172176

Article

Legal professionals are required to write ethically, skilfully and accurately. Growing concerns over the quality of graduated students entering the profession has led to an increased sensitivity about the teaching of writing skills. This article will not consider the how to, but instead focus on the issue of why legal writers should be vigilant in guarding against the proclivity to write in a careless manner. It will be argued that the results of careless legal writing could have devastating consequences for the legal professional’s career as well as his client’s wallet. Legal writing has to be professional and ethical and reflect the writer’s respect for his or her own workmanship as well as for the intended recipient. Careful legal writing aims to avoid misunderstandings and litigation and aids in developing and clarifying legal analysis. It recognises the permanent nature of what is being written and the persuasive potential innate to legal drafting. Responsible legal writers are mindful of the specific legal consequences of their writing and recognise that they have, in their writing, the ability to appeal to the aesthetic sensibilities of the reader.

Professionele regsgeleerdes is verplig om eties, vaardig en akkuraat te skryf. Toenemende kommer oor die kwaliteit van gegradueerde studente wat by die professie aansluit, het gelei tot ʼn verhoogte sensitiwiteit oor die onderrig van skryfvaardighede. Hierdie artikel sal nie aandag gee aan die hoe nie, maar sal eerder fokus op die kwessie van hoekom regsgeleerdes moet waak teen die geneigdheid om op ʼn onverskillige manier te skryf. Daar sal geargumenteer word dat sorgelose regsskrywery vernietigende gevolge vir die professionele regsgeleerde se loopbaan sowel as sy kliënt se beursie kan inhou. Regsskryfwerk moet professioneel en eties wees en die skrywer se respek vir sy of haar eie werksproduk sowel as vir die ontvanger daarvan reflekteer. Versigtige regsskryfwerk het ten doel om misverstande en litigasie te vermy en dra by tot die ontwikkeling en verheldering van regsanalise. Dit erken die permanente aard van wat geskryf word en die oorredende potensiaal eie tot regsskryfwerk. Verantwoordelike regsskrywers is bedag op die spesifieke regsgevolge van hul skryfwerk en besef ook dat hulle oor die vermoë beskik om deur hul skrywery tot die estetiese ontvanklikheid van die leser deur te dring.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97578
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