I have been thinking about how legal language practices affect the readability of official government documents. Specifically, I want to explore which practices are justified and which ones are unnecessary.
For example, I am disturbed by the legal convention which first uses a full, legal name, followed by hereinafter and a shorter name. In ordinary writing, this sort of long-to-short replacement happens all the time without the officious legalism.
Here’s an example from some data protection guidelines with not one but two “hereinafters.”
These guidelines provide practical guidance and interpretative assistance from the Article 29 Working Party (hereinafter “Working Party”) on the new obligation of transparency concerning the processing of personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (hereinafter ”Data Protection Regulation”).
Since the text that follows refers only to this Working Party, the phrase ‘Article 29‘ is omitted. Likewise, “General” is dropped from later mentions of the Data Protection Regulation. Ritually adding hereinafter to the first mention of each term provides no real clarification, since the meaning would be obvious anyway. The main result of this pointless specificity is unnecessarily complicated language.