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No matter how wonderful the technology, people are still writing rubbish. Featured below are some of the recent winners of the Plain English Campaign's awards for those who just seem to have a way with words!

NHS report extract

This Outline Regional Information Strategy is an interim report. In a sense, an Information Strategy can never be definitive. To talk about information is to talk about objectives. A lot of thought is now being applied throughout the NHS to mission statements and objectives, from which we should obtain a clearer view of our information needs. However, objectives will never stand still, and therefore an Information Strategy will of necessity be a continuously developing concept. The process of clarification will be incremental, and the concept of a definitive strategy will remain illusory.

Letter from local authority explaining pension entitlement

In reply to your recent enquiry regarding your entitlement to retirement benefits if you were to be retired under the Voluntary Redundancy Scheme; when the added years awarded to you under the Scheme exceed 6.2/3rd years, there is a reduction of an amount equal to 30% of your redundancy payment in respect of each year (and part year) of service in excess of this. This amount is deducted from your additional lump sum, but if the said amount is greater than the additional lump sum, the outstanding balance is capitalised and deducted from the additional pension. When the added years awarded are 6 years 243 days or less there is no reduction in your compensation.

Letter to customer who thought he had bought a new machine.

You are correct that the photocopier had been previously supplied to another customer in 1996. This machine was returned and was remanufactured at our Remanufacturing Facility prior to being supplied to you. At the time of supply it was a current model in the manufacturer's range and so within the terms of the agreement it was not remanufactured.

Reply from member of the public to a local authority legal department

I cannot fetter the exercise of my discretion by determining in advance of the exercise of such discretion how I might exercise that discretion.

Office of National Statistics letter

As I am sure you are aware, ONS has to maintain the confidence of the public in order to be able to conduct the decennial census. Very detailed statistics are produced and in order to prevent inadvertent disclosure of an individual or household, the counts are modified (blurred) using a statistical modification procedure at ED level (Enumeration District). This modification involves the addition of +1, 0 or -1 in a quasi-random pattern and in some instances are double blurred. Therefore when tables are produced where the ED counts have been modified and then aggregated up to form other areas such as the Local Council Areas, these counts will differ from an aggregate of unmodified counts? I trust that the above now provides you with a satisfactory explanation.

Inland Revenue letter

Your accountant is correct in his advice to you as in accordance with the Legislation contained at Section 134 Income & Corporation Taxes Acts 1988 it is directed that where an individual (the worker) renders or is under an obligation to render personal services to another person (the client) and is subject to or to the right of supervision, direction or control as to the manner in which he renders those services; and the worker is supplied to the client by or through a third person (the agency) and renders or is under an obligation to render those services under the terms of the contract between the worker and the agency and remuneration receivable under or in consequence of the contract would not, apart from Section 134 be chargeable to income tax under Schedule E then for all the purposes of the Income Taxes Acts the services which the worker renders or is under an obligation to render to the client under the contract shall be treated as if they were the duties of an office or employment held by the worker and all remuneration receivable under or in consequence of that contract shall be treated as emoluments of that office or employment and shall be assessable to income tax under Schedule E accordingly.

Glasgow City Council letter to parents

At its meeting on 11 November 1999, the education committee of Glasgow City Council agreed to adopt the following proposal that: a delineated area be created for Bannerman High School and that it be formed by the aggregation of those parts of the delineated areas of the existing associated primary schools which are zoned to Bannerman High School as shown at Appendix 2'.

A legal opinion on a financial firm.

'If it is a breach of the rules not to reveal that there have been many breaches of the rules then presumably there must be a further breach of the rules not to reveal the breach of the rules in not revealing the mass breach of the rules, and so on. The concept of a duty with the capacity for infinite regression is most unattractive.'

A public official's letter to a member of the public.

'I cannot fetter the exercise of my discretion by determining in advance of the exercise of such discretion how I might exercise that discretion.'

A supposedly 'simple' will form.

'Signed by the said TESTATOR.... in the presence of us, present at the same time, who at the Testator's request, in the Testator's presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names at witnesses.'

A conference title.

'Optimising Knowledge Sharing and Maximising Intranet ROI Through Winning Content Management Strategies'

An exam board (explaining the rules for GCSE course).

'Synoptic assessment unit(s), when first attempted, must be taken terminally, that is, either in the same series as the non-synoptic units or in a subsequent series. Where there are two synoptic units, they must be taken terminally and together when taken for the first time.
'In the event of a candidate re-taking non-synoptic units after the synoptic units have been attempted (for example, when certification has been declined) there is no requirement for synoptic units to be retaken in order to meet the 'end-of-course' requirement above.'

Australian accountant to client.

'The requirement that deductibility is contingent on expenditure being incurred for the purpose of gaining or producing assessable income is common to the provisions relating to both registration and other expenditure.
'It does not mean that there must be assessable income arising from the business. All that is required is that the business must be put to use for the ultimate objective of producing assessable income. However, where expenditure is incurred for purposes that include the purpose of producing assessable income, deductibility will only be to the extent that producing assessable income is the purpose for incurring the expenditure.

British Forces Cyprus letter

Unfortunately this letter in Cyprus was all Greek to the reader.
'The allocation is based on a balanced equity share using the same formulae as last year. Should the DE methodology or a division by category methodology have been used then some PROPMAN areas would have been severely disadvantaged.'


Department for Education and Skills Instrument and Articles of Government for Further Education Corporations

Earlier this year, a government order set out new rules for Further Education Corporations (or colleges as they were once known). Several of the rules set out how a Corporation can go about sacking or suspending a member of staff. Rule 14, paragraph 2 explains that: 'Paragraph (1) is without prejudice to any action which the Corporation may take in relation to a clerk who is also a member of the staff by way of suspension from or termination of the appointment as clerk under the terms of any separateappointment as clerk.'


EDI Group (Edinburgh) Craigmillar Masterplan Design Guide

This document is 'a Manifesto for the upbeat possibilities for new settlement at Craigmillar' (an area of Edinburgh). It opens by explaining that: 'Many guides are repetitive. Lack of repetition in this one should not be taken as equivocation.'
The guide goes on to describe proposals for 'an ambitious new approach to the urban form of the suburb'. It explains that 'Any reading as an archaic walled city or fortification is obviated by the sinous form of the boundary buildings allowing swathes of green to penetrate the actual edge.'
Later the guide describes plans for 'sustainable urban drainage systems'. It says the plans 'shall include attenuation of increased flow generated by development, localised biological treatment by SUDS, flood alleviation by avoidance of further culverting, soft engineering the channel edges, and day lighting the culvert.'

Financial Services Authority consultation paper (CP98) on mortgage regulation

The government's financial watchdog really wants to drive the message home in this part of the paper:
'3.7 Unsolicited real time qualifying credit promotions
1) An unsolicited real time qualifying credit promotion is a real time qualifying credit promotion which is not a solicited real time qualifying credit promotion.'

RSA Examinations Board Levels 3 and 4 advice and guidance standards

These are guidelines for people taking a course in guidance. Unit 4 ('Develop and maintain interaction with clients') suggests that 'tensions between resource constraints influencing ending and client requirements are managed'. In other words, the client should know how long the interview will last.
The guidelines add the need to be sure that 'interactions avoid disabling and exploitative behaviour and encourage clients' autonomy'. Or to put it another way, 'Clients are treated with respect.'
Meanwhile, in unit 23 ('Work with the caller on the telephone'), the reader discovers that 'verbal gesturing provides reassurance to caller of continued presence and sense of safety which provides encouragement to express their feelings and wishes'. In plain English, you should make sure the caller knows you are still on the line and they can talk openly to you.

Technomatic terms and conditions

Among this computer firm's collection of epic sentences is this 141-word beauty.
'Except in respect of death or personal injury caused by the Company's negligence the Company shall not be liable to the Customer by reason of any representation (unless fraudulent) or any implied warranty, condition or other term or any duty in common law or under the express terms of the Contract for any indirect, special or consequential losses or damages (whether for loss of profit or otherwise) costs expenses or other claims for compensation whatsoever (whether caused by the negligence of the Company, its employees, agents or otherwise) which arise out of or in connection with the supply of the Goods or their use or resale by the Customer and the entire liability of the Company under or in connection with the Contract shall not exceed one and a half times the price paid for the Goods in question by the Customer.

University of Dundee 'Corporate Identity Design Rationale'

Ever wondered how the University of Dundee chose its logo? You'll soon wish you hadn't.
'The geometric foundation of the design is based upon a circular form, which makes reference to the Institution's global perspective and international reputation in teaching and research. The typographic elements demonstrate a hierarchy which promotes the importance of the location within the nomenclature. The group of circles represents the incremental growth of knowledge and experience and the progressive development of the University as an educational leader. This thematic device continues through to the linear band on the right of the Shield of Arms and describes the cyclical movement of time, indicating progression and new directions.'

Wheale Thomas Hodgins plc job advert

The advert is for a 'Workplace & Diversity Director' for the 'Business in the Community' organisation. The lucky candidate will help 'make the most of UK Plc's Human Resources by changing its people landscape through inclusivity'. They will also make 'Business in the Community' 'the primary catalyst for change and centre of excellence on all things inclusive'. Apparently applicants will need to 'possess the leadership, gravitas and currency to impact upon your peer group'.





updated 26 April, 2004 23:48