New Zealand’s Plain Language Act

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    Context

    • Recently, New Zealand has passed the Plain Language Bill, which requires bureaucrats to use simple, easily understood language while communicating with the public.

    About

    • With the law, which banishes jargon and complicated English words, New Zealand is aiming to become a more inclusive democracy and help people who speak English as their second language, those with disabilities, and the less educated.
    • According to the Bill, plain language is defined as “appropriate to the intended audience” and “clear, concise, and well organised”. 
      • Though the Plain Language Act does not specify which language constitutes a “plain language”, the Act is intended for the use of “plain English”. 

    Implementation and challenges

    • Under the Plain Language Act, a public service agency must annually report its compliance with the plain language use requirement to the Commissioner.
    • The Commissioner, in turn, must annually report the compliance of agencies to the Minister of Public Service. 
    • The Act further instructs the Minister of Public Service to present a copy of the report to the House of Representatives within 20 business days of receiving it.
    • Although the Act is legally binding once it receives royal assent, the Plain Language Act does not confer a legal right or impose a legal obligation that is enforceable in a court of law, on any person.

    Source: TH