PLAIN WRITING ACT OF 2010

As a proponent of the use of "plain English" in the preparation of legal documents and one of the authors of an article that appeared in the Michigan Bar Journal entitled: "Legalese and the Myth of Case Precedent," 64 Mich. B.J. 1136 (1985), I found the passage by the Senate on September 27, 2010, of the Plain Writing Act of 2010 encouraging.

On that date, the Senate by unanimous consent passed H.R. 946, the “Plain Writing Act of 2010,” which, broadly speaking would require regulatory agencies, including IRS, to issue some forms of guidance in “plain writing.”

The bill would require each federal agency, by one year after enactment, to use plain writing in every “covered document” of the agency that it issues or substantially revises. A covered document would be defined to: (1) mean any document that is relevant to obtaining any federal benefit or service or filing taxes, that provides information about any federal benefit or service, or that explains to the public how to comply with a requirement the federal government administers or enforces; (2) include (whether in paper or electronic form) a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction; and (3) exclude a regulation.

The House had earlier passed a slightly different version of H.R. 946, so it must approve the Senate's version before the measure heads to the President for his signature.