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Plain English Legal: Pennsylvania’s Take

by Vinay Jain

Can you imagine how much simpler legal would be if every contract followed these rules?

From Pennsylvania’s Plain Language Consumer Contract Act (which unfortunately only applies to certain types of contracts in PA):

  1. The contract should use short words, sentences and paragraphs.
  2. The contract should use active verbs.
  3. The contract should not use technical legal terms, other than commonly understood legal terms, such as “mortgage,” “warranty” and “security interest.”
  4. The contract should not use Latin and foreign words or any other word whenever its use requires reliance upon an obsolete meaning.
  5. If the contract defines words, the words should be defined by using commonly understood meanings.
  6. When the contract refers to the parties to the contract, the reference should use personal pronouns, the actual or shortened names of the parties, the terms “seller” and “buyer” or the terms “lender” and “borrower.”
  7. The contract should not use sentences that contain more than one condition.
  8. The contract should not use cross references, except cross references that briefly and clearly describe the substances of the item to which reference is made.
  9. The contract should not use sentences with double negatives or exceptions to exceptions.
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Vinay Jain

As Chief Legal Officer, Vinay serves as Shake's general counsel, is responsible for the company's legal contracts and content, and leads efforts to educate consumers and small businesses about the law.

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