Partnership results in Plain English Awards nomination
A partnership between two Hamilton businesses has made the line-up of finalists in the 2018 Plain English Awards.
When accountant Brydon Davidson decided that he wanted to overhaul his business, he began to look at everything, starting with webpages, how he was going to work with others and anything that was facing clients.
“My problem was finding someone who would ‘get me’ and help me express myself and how I wanted to work professionally, but not boringly.
“I didn’t want someone who was boring and conventional and safe.”
Brydon teamed up with writing trainer Shelly Davies because “boring, conventional and safe are never words you could use to describe Shelly!”.
The starting point to overhauling everything was the rewrite of the client agreement.
“Everything I do and how I want to do it flows from that one document so it’s important to set the right tone right from the start,” Brydon said.
“I was really mindful that people never want to read legal agreements that are traditionally really boring and full of unnecessary jargon,” Shelly said. “So we got rid of all of that.” Shelly re-wrote the agreement, which is now refreshingly real to the point that includes the odd swear word, plenty of humour and a “dickhead clause”.
It was brilliant enough to catch the eye of the judges in the Plain English Awards who’ve announced that Brydon’s company — Infinite Possibilities Ltd — is a finalist in the best plain English legal document category and the best plain English turnaround category.
“Nobody reads documents like that.
“They sign them and forget about them, but if any issues come up with that client and you try to resolve them and refer to the agreement they don’t know what they’ve signed,” Brydon said.
“I wanted something that reflected not only how I work, but what I expect from my clients and what they can expect from me so everyone’s really clear right from the beginning, which in turn helps reduce surprises of the bad unexpected variety.”
“We think that for a document to be legally binding it has to sound legal. That it must use lawyery words. That’s simply not true,” Shelly said.
“To be legally binding the meaning has to be clear and unambiguous. That doesn’t exclude its ability to have some personality.”
Shelly is a passionate advocate for using plain English.
She travels New Zealand training organisations to write more clearly using plain language.
Another of Shelly’s clients, Wineworks, is also a finalist. Andy Baldwin is a production supervisor and a champion for continuous improvement at Wineworks. Andy is a finalist in the best English champion (team or individual) category.
Winners will be announced in Wellington on November 15.
Brydon Davidson and Shelly Davies.