In legal texts, accuracy is paramount. This is true, whether the text is a complex legal document or a simple public notice. The slightest error in the text can have serious consequences and can change the meaning of a sentence. An example of this is: “Registration for all participants in the conference will be excepted by the secretary after the first day of the October.”, where, of course, the intended word is ‘accepted’ and not ‘excepted’. Another example is “New members of the club are required to sign the contract or pay the registration fee.”, in which case ‘or’ should be ‘and’. An example of a simple public notice giving erroneous information where ‘unless’ is inadvertently used instead of ‘when’ is “Do not proceed unless the red light shows.” This may appear to be incredible, but such errors do occur. Even a comma in the wrong place can change the meaning; for example, “Members are admitted free and guests, will be charged £5” which should be “Members are admitted free, and guests will be charged £5.”
Legal texts, of course, contain many technical words and precise legal terms. In fact, there are few errors in these technical words, but as described above, errors are more likely to occur in simple words and expressions rather than in complicated ones. Nevertheless, such errors have a significant effect. For this reason, it is important to submit legal texts to be proofread.
In cases where the greater part of the text consists of technical legal expressions, paraphrasing or very heavy editing may not always be suitable, as few words can be changed without changing the meaning. Nevertheless, there can be occasions where paraphrasing is appropriate. However, it is always wise to submit legal text to a proofreader or proofreading services provider since the small errors, as previously explained, can often be the most serious ones.
The Ultimate Proofreader is a proofreading services UK-based provider.