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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

With all the consequences that may enTAIL

We have previously written about Russian legal English's use as a cipher. In this article we observe that British legal English, replete with ambiguities and vague phrases about things that it is supposed are reasonable or obvious or usual or natural but in fact are not obviously any such thing, can likewise serve as a cipher for the delivery of sinister and other sorts of messages hidden within the folds of legalistic ambiguity and complex technical phrases. Because, unlike some legal systems, British legal English is extremely sophisticated, varied and full of lots of different words that have very similar meanings, it is extremely useful for expression of nuances and hidden meanings.

Let us begin with a typically obtuse English legal expression:

You are deemed a member of a proscribed organisation, with all the legal consequences that may entail.

This wonderfully obscure phrase, that this author has seen used and has himself used on a number of occasions, might mean any one of the following things:

  • You are a prostitute or you otherwise live off immoral earnings

  • You are a member of a terrorist organisation

  • You are member of a foreign intelligence community with interests hostile to those of the United Kingdom

  • You are bound by official secrecy legislation so you had better keep your mouth shut

Or consider the following:

There may have been an electronic communications interference and we are engaging to court to conduct an early neutral evaluation with the costs born by the parties.

Or there is another example:

The receiving party shall undertake all reasonable endeavours to comply with the necessary and/or reasonable requirements of the sending party and of the entering party, which latter parties ("the Principal Parties") shall provide the receiving party with instructions in writing or otherwise with a due written or other record taken of all relevant matters in such reasonable terms as the parties may expect and/or require.

Here is another piece of typical British legal English:

In the event of any unlawful contractual interference by a third party ("the Third Party"), then the Principal Parties, in conjunction with the domestic parties, shall take such reasonable proportionate and necessary measures as they may in their exclusive discretion consider appropriate with a view to ensuring rescission of the effects of the unlawful contractual interference pursuant to the terms of all applicable and appropriate legislation.

And another:

Either party shall be free to terminate the contract without post-contractual liabilities with a period of three months' notice in writing without any reasons being given and said termination notwithstanding absence of reasons not giving rise to any liabilities whether in contract tort or otherwise, subject always to the overriding provisions of any and all such confidentiality obligations that will be considered as permanent irrespective of the circumstances of termination, provided however that in the event of any unlawful contractual interference by the Third Party the Parties shall continue to cooperate with a view to ensuring rescission of the effects of the unlawful contractual interference pursuant to the terms of all applicable and appropriate legislation and this obligation of best endeavours cooperation shall continue without limitation.

Yet another:

I trust you will use all reasonable endeavours to take such measures of enquiry as you may in your reasonable discretion consider appropriate and thereupon take such reasonable measures as you may in your reasonable discretion consider be merited, within such reasonable time scale as you may in your reasonable discretion think fit.

This means, "I really don't care what you do about this problem; it's up to you and it is out of my hands."

Here is one more:

The Contracting Party engages in reasonable relationships with such reasonable people as may be appropriate whereupon such reasonable results as the Joint Parties may think fit will be pursued using all reasonable means.

We hope the reader has found these illustrations of British English useful in understanding the ways in which British legal English can be used as an appropriate cipher. We stand ready to provide any further examples in case that third party readers may find this useful or propitious.


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