Legal plain language

Lawyers are now required by law to write contracts and documents in plain language understandable by the persons who are expected to be reading them. So you should no longer be seeing terms like "pro non scripto" (as if never written), "supra" (above), "mutatis muntandis" (substantially the same) and especially "domicilium citandi et executandi" (place for serving legal notices).

I remember on University rag day when I nearly had my trousers pulled off (it was called "de-bagging").

I fought like the very devil and eventually the opposing mob backed off!. Now I know how the attorneys must be feeling. They have lost an essential part of their armoury.

So now I'm seeing some of them (mostly the candidate attorneys, not the real ones) including the word herein in their emails "I would appreciate your responding herein" and suchlike. Helloooo?

Now regarding "Domicilium citandi et executandi" which should now be written in plain language, never insert your physical address here and be careful, some contracts, especially those drawn up by the banks, put your physical address under your name at the beginning of the agreement (contract) and then under domicilium they simply refer back to the address already disclosed. The problem with using your physical address is that if you move, you've got to remember every contract that contains the old address and notify the other parties that your domicile has changed and, of course, you'll never do that. The result is that if someone sues you under any contract after you moved, the notice will be served at your old address and you won't even know about it. They will then get a default judgement against you in your absence (Gosh - I nearly wrote in absentia!).

So, your domicile on all contracts and agreements (same thing) must be the registered office address of a company or CC. "The registered office from time to time of ................................... (Pty) Ltd (or CC) which for the time being is ..........................................................".

Now if the company or CC moves, its registered office will move with it as this is a part of the normal process of maintaining records at CIPC.

Should you wish to make an appointment, please feel free to visit Derek's diary and book a time that suits you.


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