Continuing the series, here is a short bit on finance. I hope you will add your own experiences in the comments below.
4. Financial Industries and Consumer Protections
In 1991, in How Legal Language Evolved, an early leader in writing plain language law, David Elliott, wrote of plain language in consumer documents in the 70s:
It is said to have developed in response to the needs of consumers for documents they could understand and from the new awareness from government and business that plain language brings efficiency and economic benefits.
Consumer banking and insurance
The Canadian banking and insurance industries, and later securities, followed the consumer movement affecting the U.S. industries. The voluntary activities by industry leaders were not adequate to meet the needs of consumers and fairness so governments have begun to use consumer protection laws to require plain language documents.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada began leading plain language developments in insurance policies in 1982.
After publishing the discussion paper Plain Language Consumer Contract in 1991, the Government of Province of Alberta worked with the Alberta Real Estate Association to create plain language real estate contracts and with Consumers’ Association of Canada (Alberta) to create a plain language contracts for home renovations.
In 2000, the Canadian Bankers Association published plain language mortgage documents as examples for use. In 2001, provincial securities regulators began integrating plain language in their operations. The British Columbia Securities Commission published the BCSC Plain Language Style Guide.
Some laws have been enacted and more developments are expected in this field.