Mike Ormond's Blog

Musings on mobile development and Windows Phone 7 in particular.

A little legalese (off topic)

A little legalese (off topic)

  • Comments 3

My wife and I have just bought a new house (well new to us). This can be a somewhat of a traumatic process in the UK, not least because of all the legal and historical issues you have to deal with. I’m sure it’s the same the world over though some of the arcane laws you have to deal with here surely haven’t been replicated in other lands?

Below is a choice paragraph (one of about 50) relating to the supply of water to our new property. It starts off okay and then goes into a sort of lexical tail-spin.

“a public water supply shall become available to the Grantee's property (by which shall be understood a mains water supply pipe laid in some part of an adopted highway where it fronts the Grantee's Property) then and in any of the said cases it shall be lawful for the Society or its successors in title or other the water supplier by 21 days notice in writing served on the Grantee to determine the said rights and liberties hereby granted and thereupon the same shall be determined without prejudice to any right of action of the Society its successors in title or other the water supplier in respect of any antecedent breach of any of the covenants by the Grantee herein contained.”

How on earth are people supposed to deal with that? How on earth do solicitors deal with that? How do they even dream it up? I just hope that I never have to rely on it for anything important :-).

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  • Legalese is more like a computer program than it is like English. It is the source code crafted to avoid misinterpretations in preceeding cases.

  • In some ways Solicitors and Software Developers have similar requirements when it comes to defining a scenario without ambiguity. I think they need their own DSL. Something like...

    Right Water Supply

       Inherited

       Notice 21 days

    Grant Purchaser Water Supply

    Contract disputes could be solved by feeding in the facts (e.g. 25 days notice given) and the algorithm would tell you if the contract had been breached. No need for a judge.

    Not sure it's the utopia I want to live in...

  • Snap! I'm reading through similar nonsensical restrictions at the moment. It's a shame that things aren't easier to understand - it's designed to be absolutely irrefutable in court, but of no use to the person that is supposed to abide by the rule.

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