Part­ner­ship re­sults in Plain English Awards nom­i­na­tion

Hamilton News - - NEWS -

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.

Photo / Sup­plied

Bry­don David­son and Shelly Davies.

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