If you subscribe to the 'FT', you may have seen Lucy Kellaway's piece today in 'Business Life' berating lawyers about pages and pages of online T&C's, usually written in 'lawyer speak'. "Internet consumers should not have to read six pages of nonsense every time they buy anything. If there are any terms and conditions that actually matter they should be written in plain language on the first page. Everything else should be shelved."
Tough stuff, especially when we lawyers are faced with the ever growing, and often overlapping, legal provisions about distance selling, unfair contract terms, mandatory information provisions etc. etc. that have to be communicated.
But Lucy has a point. We have to find a way of reconciling 'lawyer readable' with 'human readable' terms. Whether we use 'pop ups' with key points, or short 'plain language' summaries, there needs to be ways in which key terms are communicated to users so that they understand what they're buying or signing up to.
It's a challenge and it needs co-operation between legislators, lawyers, service providers and consumer organisations. In a digital world in which advertisers and service providers need to collect permissions and consents from their customers, we have to find way to make those requests concise and simple to understand. And, yes, it also imposes a responsibility on us as consumers.
And, thanks, Lucy I think even us lawyers can grasp the point made in the last para of your piece: "Just in case there are any lawyers out there who do not understand this column, let me make it easier for them. "Terms and conditions" means terms and conditions. And "pointless" means pointless." Hmmm. You should have been a lawyer, Lucy.
Have a good week.