I believe we need Simple Law in all countries, but especially South Africa. We need a few laws in plain language that people understand and know, and then comply with.
Complex Law is the current reality
We currently have too many laws that are too complex resulting in people not knowing or complying with the law. Complex Law stops entrepreneurship, economic growth and job creation.
We need Simple Law
We need fewer laws and the ones we have must be in plain and understandable language. There are encouraging signs that others have also recognised this need. For example, in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance plans to table a bill in Parliament that will require the government to conduct red tape assessments on proposed laws. And Parliament has launched an Independent Advisory Panel to assess the impact of legislation in accelerating change and transformation.
If we had Simple Law, we’d:
- create a friendlier society,
- protect people from harm,
- promote freedom and transformation,
- build relationships,
- enable growth, and
- enable people to realise their potential.
Legislation requires Special Treatment
Legislation is very important and requires special treatment. There needs to be a careful balance between simplifying laws and not compromising the objectives of the legislation by ignoring the legal framework within they exist. It is important to make sure that:
- You do not reduce or water down rights
- You do not leave out important provisions
- You do not create ambiguities
- The meaning stays clear
There are some terms that belong in the legal domain – there are legal terms and cannot be changed.
The drafter needs to pay special attention to the laws applicable to the interpretation of statutes. For example, the law regards provisos, the mandatory constitutional canon, and the reading in of words to make legislation compatible with the South Africa Constitution.
Specialist skills are required to find the right balance.
A Legal Revolution
We need to start a legal revolution – a collaborative effort by many to effect change. Confronting change is always hard and we’re going to have to break down some barriers. We need to review all our laws, reduce their number, and redraft them in plain language. It will take a big effort, but a long journey starts with the first step. Who is with us?