Why Getting the Wording Right for Your Legal Documents Is Essential

Modern business depends upon correctly worded business documents to function. The saying that ‘the Devil’s in the detail’ is particularly relevant today, as contracts become more complex and are required to transcend international boundaries and borders, thanks to the Internet. So what can you do to make sure your business legal documents are up to date, accurate and, more importantly, legally binding?

Talk to the experts

Legal ‘jargon’ can be confusing for the average business owner. Although you may know your business inside out, creating business documents that have the clout in the courts that you need is a specialist skill that requires a detailed understanding of both the system and the legislation it generates. A legal expert can not only give you legal advice, but they can also create business document templates that will conform to all Scottish legislation, as well as generic laws passed by the UK government. Businesses need to be able to communicate to each other clearly and in terms that everyone understands. That is why there is a growing movement within the legal system to produce business documents that can be easily adapted to suit any business environment, but incorporating language that is clear, concise and easy to understand, even if you’re not a legal expert.

Create your own documents

Using business legal templates is a quick and easy way to create your own legal documents that will conform to Scottish law. Laid out in a clear and easy to understand manner, business legal documents can form the basis for a successful partnership between your business and your suppliers, your staff and even your shareholders.

Legal Adaptive Capacity and How Agencies Respond to Change

When Congress creates administrative agencies to address social problems, it cannot envision all of the circumstances in which they may be called on to exercise their delegated statutory authority. Indeed, the recognition that agencies will address questions on which Congress lacks expertise or experience is a principal reason for delegating regulatory or management authority to them in the first place.

Legal Adaptive Capacity and How Agencies Respond to Change

Some agencies are embedded in a legal infrastructure that is better situated to accommodate to changed conditions or novel problems than others, however. The adaptability of the goals that Congress sets out in an agency’s organic statute can either facilitate or doom that agency’s efforts to effectuate programmatic goals in the face of change.

We call this adaptability legal adaptive capacity, meaning the formal legal regime’s capacity to adapt to new phenomena. For our purposes, this regime comprises rules—such as agency regulations, manuals, plans, and guidance—promulgated by public legal institutions, including legislatures, courts, and administrative agencies. Legal adaptive capacity does not refer to other factors, such as resource constraints or agency culture, which may nonetheless influence the adaptive capacity of a regulatory regime.

Law can facilitate (or hamper) adaptation through both substantive and procedural means. We focus on substantive legal adaptive capacity, which we define as the degree to which statutory or regulatory goals are capable of accommodating change. An agency with a high degree of substantive legal adaptive capacity has the authority to adjust its interpretation of regulatory goals or the means of pursuing them, so as to meet new challenges or accommodate changed circumstances. A program with limited substantive legal adaptive capacity has relatively rigid goals that do not allow the agency to alter its regulatory or management approach, notwithstanding changed conditions. Substantive legal adaptive capacity thus measures the extent of elasticity in regulatory or management goals. Accordingly, two regulatory regimes may have similar levels of substantive legal adaptive capacity but nonetheless different regulatory goals.

To illustrate the value of the concept of legal adaptive capacity, consider the extent to which the four principal federal land management agencies—the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management—have taken actions to prepare for the effects of climate change on the lands and resources that they manage, including wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Contrary to conventional wisdom—which is largely focused on the degree of an agency’s so-called commitment to conservation—the pacesetter in climate change adaptation among the land management agencies has been the Forest Service, followed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Bureau of Land Management generally appears to be the agency least ready to minimize the impacts of climate change, though wilderness areas across all agencies are the least prepared.

We believe that part of the explanation for the Forest Service’s demonstrated leadership in this area is the degree to which its organic statute, the National Forest Management Act of 1976, provides expansive substantive legal adaptive capacity. The statute’s focus on long-term ecological sustainability and diversity establishes a broad but not overly specific resource management goal—management for multiple uses and sustained yield.

The National Park Service, by comparison, operates under longstanding regulatory interpretations that require it to preserve resources in their historical conditions and minimize the degree of human intervention with nature. These instructions are notably ill-suited to adapting the agency’s management approaches to climate change, given the unprecedented changes climate change has already begun to invoke as well as its resulting natural resource impacts. Even if the Park Service were fully committed to adapting to climate change, therefore, its substantive legal adaptive capacity would hinder its ability to do so by tethering it to resource conditions that may become impossible to sustain.

The organic legislation and promulgated regulations for the national wildlife refuges provide a moderate degree of flexibility in selecting management goals and the means to achieve them, situating the Fish and Wildlife Service as refuge manager somewhere between the Forest Service and the Park Service in both the degree of substantive legal adaptive capacity and the progress it has made in preparing for climate change.

The outlier is the Bureau of Land Management, which has substantive legal adaptive capacity similar in scope to the Forest Service’s, but which has done the least to address climate change. The absence of clear and enforceable directives to exercise substantive legal adaptive capacity may partially explain the difference between Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service adaptation. But beyond possessing legal adaptive capacity, the agency must also be willing to exercise the discretion it has been afforded. Agency traditions, culture, and resource constraints—to name just a few factors—may hinder it from doing so. Thus, although the Bureau has sufficient legal adaptive capacity to address climate change, its organic statute does not require it to exercise that authority, and the agency has been slow to do so.

More broadly, we recognize that expanding substantive legal adaptive capacity involves trade offs, and greater agency pliability may not always be desirable. In the federal lands context, however, the trade offs strongly point toward enhancing the four agencies’ substantive legal adaptive capacity because doing so is more likely to promote ecological health than adherence to the historical and non interventionist values that federal land conservation laws also express. .

Mandating the advancement of, and periodic re-assessment against, a flexible goal—such as the promotion of ecological health in light of changing conditions—may maximize the chance for effective adaptation to change rather than impede it.

Challenges of the Legal Services Act

The imminent introduction of the Legal Services Act presents new challenges for high street firms as it enables companies other than solicitors to provide legal services under what is known as an Alternative Business Structure (ABS). This means that individuals can visit an ABS for various legal services, such as, wills, probate and conveyancing. Already companies such as Co-op, the AA and Saga have become ABSs in direct competition with the traditional high street solicitors practice.

The problem facing a majority of solicitor’s practices is that large companies will clearly have a commercial advantage over the high street legal practice that used to dot every high street. Going forward a well known ‘brand’ will get custom regardless of the quality of their legal service merely due to their reputation in other areas. They also benefit from economies of scale, so can undercut the prices of smaller high street solicitors and advertise aggressively, knowing that their smaller rivals cannot compete. In addition, they have the benefit of convenience; why visit a solicitor when you can get a will written while doing the weekly shop? A survey by Yougov has shown that 60% of those surveyed would buy legal services from a known retail brand rather than a local solicitor. This makes the future look very gloomy for the average high street solicitors practice. You only have to glance down a high street to see the lack of independent retailers due to being priced out by large corporate brands. By visiting the same brand for legal services, the legal profession will go the same way.

More worryingly, critics argue that it will damage the independence of the profession. Solicitors often work in small partnerships, independent from the clients they serve, striving to provide good quality legal services building client confidence, loyalty and client recommendations. However, bring in a major retailer with interests in several sectors and the outlook changes dramatically. Solicitors are responsible for their own reputation which is earned through the service they provide, making them personally liable for the work they undertake. Larger retailers simply do not have the same degree of liability; if a mistake is made it does not affect the company on a national scale. With large companies there is also the possibility that they will only be interested in the relatively simple tasks in order to make a quick buck, leaving the riskier and more expensive work for their high street competitors.

If an ABS can offer routine legal services without what may appear to be a hefty price tag, why choose a high street firm? Firstly, there is the personal service and client relationship; a solicitor can build up a strong relationship with a client over several years, thus better understanding the needs of each situation. In law, due to the vast diversity of situations, there simply cannot be an effective one size fits all model (the likely approach of the likes of the AA, Co-op etc). Instead of a mass-produced product, a high street solicitor can offer you an approach tailored to meet your needs. Most solicitors firms operate in a team of highly qualified specialists to provide a quality service rather than one solicitor heading a large group of paralegals or unqualified legal assistants. Put simply, high street firms offer quality over quantity. To ensure their future high street law firms have to maintain their professional standards.

It is true that high street firms need to adapt to have a chance of competing with big business. However, the days of the sole practitioner will soon be gone. For the smaller firms to survive they may no alternative but to merge with other professional services, such as, accountants and IFA’s to provide all business and personal services under one roof. No matter what steps they take, high street solicitors need to show that they are just as accessible and approachable as the big brands. Ultimately, receiving legal advice is a service: you pay for the quality you receive. Buying a house or deciding who inherits your worldly possessions is an important decision. Why cut corners to save a few pounds when a quality personal service is around the corner waiting to help?