When professionals from the legal, translation, teaching, etc. fields get together, there is always an interesting conclusion do be taken from the debate.
This was the situation I experienced in my enriching interactions with Spanish professors, lawyers working in the judicial and legislative system, editors and translators. And all of this about one word…
I agree with the conclusion: in legal documents that are intended for the ordinary citizen, not legal professionals, the language must be precise from the legal standpoint, but it should be “easy to understand and simple.” In these documents for those affected by most documents, the text must be understood by a person who is not trained in legal matters, so that when they are signed, the people involved know what they are signing.
It’s almost an ethical duty for the editor of these legal documents that non-professionals understand what obligations are brought about by his or her signature, and not that their signature is a mere “acknowledgement” almost “without protest”, since the citizen has no reason to complain or anything to ask, since they do not understand the document.
In this sense, the Plain English Movement, a movement born in England that ensures understanding of the legal documents signed by people who are not legal professionals, is widely endorsed in the Spanish market.
In our next post we will write more about this English movement, which has been the seed that has made us aware of the importance of signing legal documents while truly “understanding what is signed.”
(Versión en español: https://www.trustedtranslations.com/lenguaje-ciudadano-2011-10-21.html)