How the law defines plain language

Parliament has begun incorporating plain language requirements into legislation. Although compliance is not the only benefit for using plain language it is still an important consideration when communicating. 

The National Credit ActCompanies Act and Consumer Protection Act have essentially the same requirements for plain language. They give some clarity on the expectations for the use of plain language in documents.

  • A document is considered to be in plain language if an ordinary person with an average level of literacy skills and minimal experience in the field can understand the document.
  • In essence you must consider your intended audience and communicate at your audience’s level of literacy and knowledge.
  • The law goes further to say that a person must be able to understand the content, significance and importance of the document and only then is a document considered to be in plain language.

Businesses cannot afford to ignore the requirements of plain language and should take these requirements into consideration when communicating.   

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