Plain English in Legal Writing

3 February 2014

Plain English in Legal Writing - 28, 29 April & 1, 2 May 2014 - Robinson College, Cambridge
Plain English in Legal Writing - 28, 29 April & 1, 2 May 2014 - Robinson College, Cambridge

Emeritus Professor Peter Butt teaches this offshore postgraduate intensive at Robinson College, Cambridge in late April/early May.

During Plain English in Legal Writing, you will analyse the role of plain English in legal writing, with particular emphasis on contract drafting, property documents, statutes, and advice-writing.

You will also examine the reasons for the 'traditional' style of legal writing, the research into the advantages and disadvantages of plain English, and the techniques for writing law in plain English.

Topics covered include:

  • Assumptions behind using plain English in law
  • The problems with terms of art and judicially-defined words and phrases
  • The causes of ambiguities in legal documents
  • Aspects of document design

Emeritus Professor Peter Butt is the Founding Director, Centre for Plain Legal Language and Lecturer and author in land law, native title, and legal drafting.

He is the past President of Clarity (an international plain language association) and has delivered papers at conferences and seminars in Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, England, Canada, United States of America, on the topics of legal drafting and land law.

He is consultant to Australian Government on land law aspects of Native Title Act 1993 and to the New South Wales Law Reform Commission on various reforms to property law.


Sydney Law School in Europe
Robinson College, Cambridge
Semester 1 Intensive
28, 29 April & 1, 2 May 2014


  • Class Participation, including Drafting Assignments (20%)
  • 1 x 3,000 Word Essay (40%)
  • 1 x 3,000 Word Redrafting Exercise (40%)

Plain English in Legal Writingis available to study through the following Sydney Law School degree programmes:

Legal practitioners can count this unit of study towards Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Candidates can also enrol in this subject on a Single Unit Enrolmentor Cross-Institutional basis.

Candidates can elect to complete the assessment, claim the MCLE or CPD points and then count the unit towards a degree at a later stage.

Alternatively, candidates can elect not to complete the assessment but still claim the MCLE or CPD points.

To register, please contact

For enquiries regarding enrolment, please contact the Postgraduate Team.

  1. Download the 2014 Sydney Law School Postgraduate Law Guide (34MB)
  2. View Sydney Law School's 2014 Postgraduate units of study in alphabetical order
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Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 5327003e7b38241f202317283f025e780414373b37115e060f047b551e