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Assessing plain and intelligible language in the Consumer Rights Act: a role for reading scores?

Conklin, Kathy; Hyde, Richard; Parente, Fabio

Authors

Kathy Conklin

Richard Hyde richard.hyde@nottingham.ac.uk

Fabio Parente fabio.parente@nottingham.ac.uk



Abstract

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 consumer contracts and consumer notices are required to be expressed in plain and intelligible language. This is a difficult concept to capture. Determining whether a contract is expressed in plain and intelligible language involves resource intensive work by regulators and difficult adjudications by courts. This paper explores whether reading scores present a viable alternative. Can a simple computer program tell a consumer, a business, a regulator or the court that a particular contract is not expressed in plain and intelligible language? The paper begins by exploring the concept and role of plain and intelligible language in the Consumer Rights Act, before considering the ways that reading scores have developed and been used in legal contexts. We then report on the findings of an experimental examination of insurance contracts using a basket of reading scores, using our findings to draw conclusions about the utility of reading scores in determining whether a contract is expressed in plain and intelligible language. We find that reading scores can play a role in such determinations, but that further work is needed to provide appropriate tools for business, regulators and courts to use in assessing plain and intelligible language.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 10, 2019
Journal Legal Studies
Print ISSN 0261-3875
Electronic ISSN 1748-121X
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Institution Citation Conklin, K., Hyde, R., & Parente, F. (2019). Assessing plain and intelligible language in the Consumer Rights Act: a role for reading scores?. Legal Studies, doi:10.1017/lst.2018.25
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/lst.2018.25
Keywords Contracts; Insurance; Consumer Protection; Reading Scores; Regulation; Linguistic Analysis
Publisher URL https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/legal-studies/article/assessing-plain-and-intelligible-language-in-the-consumer-rights-act-a-role-for-reading-scores/5A7EFDA81CD6AF84ADCAFF60CAD7CAB2
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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