A friend has just sent me an example of legalese which he claims is the best that he has ever come across.

I confess that I am also of the same opinion.

After reading it, if you too are not, I will be very surprised. Moreover, if you can understand what the particular section of the act aims at achieving, please enlighten me and the other readers of this post.

Section 165.55 of Australia’s 1999 GST legislation.

“For the purposes of making a declaration under this subdivision, the commissioner may: (a) treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened; and (b) treat a particular event that did not actually happen as having happened and, if appropriate, treat the event as (i) having happened at a particular time; and (ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity; and (c) treat a particular event that actually happened as: (i) having happened at a time different from the time it actually happened; or (ii) having involved particular action by a particular entity (whether or not the event actually involved any action by that entity).”

22 thoughts on “Legalese.”

  1. I think the lesson here is that no matter how detailed the legal code, someone is going to find a loophole that subverts everything. Thus, this section grants the commissioner a corresponding loophole to make up what ever alternate reality is necessary to shake down the creative tax avoider. In the end, laws are only intended for the law abiding folk.

    1. Thank you Looney. I have understood. The point that I wish to make is that they could have used exactly the kind of language that you have used. Simple, direct and understandable to ordinary folk like me.

  2. ordinary people here would call it “gobbledygook” or similar spelling…

    parents usually do a lot of “spelling” of words…that children cannot keep up with – for by the time they have worked “g-o-i-n-g” the convo has moved on… or there are hand movements that say much without saying anything…

  3. Would you repeat that —- exactly what happened or didn’t happen? Might it happen or not happen still? If it happens or doesn’t happen what am I supposed to do? I’ll ask my President as likely he’s the only one who could make sense of it, even when no one else sees any sense to it.

    1. I hope that you remember – “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
      ~ Donald Rumsfeld

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