In the Proctor -v- Raleys case the standard forms and letters written by the insurers came under close scrutiny at the trial and in the Court of Appeal. Professor Richard Moorhead provides an interesting angle on this issue in his blog on the subject.
THE FLESCH-KINCAID READABILITY SCORE
The Flesh-Kincaid test is a test which looks at the “readability” of text. Richard Moorhead ran the third letter in the Proctor case through the test and found that:
- The letter did not fall into the category easily-readable by a 13-15 year old.
- It had a similar readability score as Moby Dick.
Insurance policies in the US are required to be written to the 13-15 year old standard.
By way of example my earlier post on the “economics” of practice had a score of 64 (well within the 13-15 year old readability criteria).
THE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THIS
Clearly any standard letters and questionnaires have to be both accurate and easy to understand. Letters of explanation, which take the place of advice in person, need to be clear and easily read by the client, as well as accurate. This type of communication is rarely part of a lawyer’s education. It is a particular category of drafting that probably needs to be considered in a lot of detail in the very near future.