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    Rights statement: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Statute Law Review following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Thomas E Webb, Robert Geyer, The Drafters’ Dance: The Complexity of Drafting Legislation and the Limitations of ‘Plain Language’ and ‘Good Law’ Initiatives, Statute Law Review,41(2) , hmz008, https://doi.org/10.1093/slr/hmz008 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/slr/article-abstract/41/2/129/5522410

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The Drafters' Dance: The complexity of drafting legislation and the limitations of 'Plain Language' and 'Good Law' initiatives

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The Drafters' Dance : The complexity of drafting legislation and the limitations of 'Plain Language' and 'Good Law' initiatives. / Webb, Thomas Edward; Geyer, Robert Ralph.

In: Statute Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 2, 01.06.2020, p. 129–158.

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@article{759adb5124af49eb96c97d15bb093043,
title = "The Drafters' Dance: The complexity of drafting legislation and the limitations of 'Plain Language' and 'Good Law' initiatives",
abstract = "Can we provide legislative drafters with tools to simplify and clarify legislation, and make it more accessible? In the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and EU, through strategies such as the {\textquoteleft}Plain Language{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}Good Law{\textquoteright} (PL/GL) initiatives, it is claimed that the answer is {\textquoteleft}yes{\textquoteright}. Though many of the normative intentions underlying such initiatives are commendable, we argue that the pursuit of legislative and legal simplicity, clarity, and accessibility ignores the distinctly {\textquoteleft}complicated{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}complex{\textquoteright} role of legislation and legislative drafters. This leads to a range of contradictory and paradoxical outcomes that undermine these goals. Following a review of the role of legislative drafters and PL/GL initiatives, we use a complexity tool, the Stacey Diagram, to demonstrate and visualise the inherent tensions in the PL/GL position. We show how legislative drafters negotiate their complex environment in a much more subtle, human way than is commonly recognised in PL/GL discourse.",
keywords = "Complexity theory , Legislation, Legislation and Policy, Law, Legal Theory, Systems theory, Parliament, Plain language, Good Law",
author = "Webb, {Thomas Edward} and Geyer, {Robert Ralph}",
note = "This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Statute Law Review following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Thomas E Webb, Robert Geyer, The Drafters{\textquoteright} Dance: The Complexity of Drafting Legislation and the Limitations of {\textquoteleft}Plain Language{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}Good Law{\textquoteright} Initiatives, Statute Law Review, 41(2) , hmz008, https://doi.org/10.1093/slr/hmz008 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/slr/article-abstract/41/2/129/5522410",
year = "2020",
month = jun,
day = "1",
doi = "10.1093/slr/hmz008",
language = "English",
volume = "41",
pages = "129–158",
journal = "Statute Law Review",
issn = "0144-3593",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Drafters' Dance

T2 - The complexity of drafting legislation and the limitations of 'Plain Language' and 'Good Law' initiatives

AU - Webb, Thomas Edward

AU - Geyer, Robert Ralph

N1 - This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Statute Law Review following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Thomas E Webb, Robert Geyer, The Drafters’ Dance: The Complexity of Drafting Legislation and the Limitations of ‘Plain Language’ and ‘Good Law’ Initiatives, Statute Law Review, 41(2) , hmz008, https://doi.org/10.1093/slr/hmz008 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/slr/article-abstract/41/2/129/5522410

PY - 2020/6/1

Y1 - 2020/6/1

N2 - Can we provide legislative drafters with tools to simplify and clarify legislation, and make it more accessible? In the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and EU, through strategies such as the ‘Plain Language’ and ‘Good Law’ (PL/GL) initiatives, it is claimed that the answer is ‘yes’. Though many of the normative intentions underlying such initiatives are commendable, we argue that the pursuit of legislative and legal simplicity, clarity, and accessibility ignores the distinctly ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ role of legislation and legislative drafters. This leads to a range of contradictory and paradoxical outcomes that undermine these goals. Following a review of the role of legislative drafters and PL/GL initiatives, we use a complexity tool, the Stacey Diagram, to demonstrate and visualise the inherent tensions in the PL/GL position. We show how legislative drafters negotiate their complex environment in a much more subtle, human way than is commonly recognised in PL/GL discourse.

AB - Can we provide legislative drafters with tools to simplify and clarify legislation, and make it more accessible? In the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and EU, through strategies such as the ‘Plain Language’ and ‘Good Law’ (PL/GL) initiatives, it is claimed that the answer is ‘yes’. Though many of the normative intentions underlying such initiatives are commendable, we argue that the pursuit of legislative and legal simplicity, clarity, and accessibility ignores the distinctly ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ role of legislation and legislative drafters. This leads to a range of contradictory and paradoxical outcomes that undermine these goals. Following a review of the role of legislative drafters and PL/GL initiatives, we use a complexity tool, the Stacey Diagram, to demonstrate and visualise the inherent tensions in the PL/GL position. We show how legislative drafters negotiate their complex environment in a much more subtle, human way than is commonly recognised in PL/GL discourse.

KW - Complexity theory

KW - Legislation

KW - Legislation and Policy

KW - Law

KW - Legal Theory

KW - Systems theory

KW - Parliament

KW - Plain language

KW - Good Law

U2 - 10.1093/slr/hmz008

DO - 10.1093/slr/hmz008

M3 - Journal article

VL - 41

SP - 129

EP - 158

JO - Statute Law Review

JF - Statute Law Review

SN - 0144-3593

IS - 2

ER -