Legistics
Table of Factors and Examples

Legistics est un recueil d’articles portant exclusivement sur les questions de rédaction en anglais des textes législatifs. La nature même de l’ouvrage fait en sorte qu’il n’est offert qu’en anglais.

Factors

Examples


Length of units

  • Paragraph when the parallel units are quite lengthy.

23. The Minister may issue a permit for a project if the permit approval committee has evaluated the permit application and reported on what, if any, environmental harm is likely to result from the project and the Minister considers that any likely environmental harm is outweighed by the socio-economic benefits that are likely to result from the project.

should be paragraphed as

23. The Minister may issue a permit for a project if

  • (a) the permit approval committee has evaluated the permit application and reported on what, if any, environmental harm is likely to result from the project; and

  • (b) the Minister considers that any likely environmental harm is outweighed by the socio-economic benefits that are likely to result from the project.


Number of units

  • Paragraph when there are a number of parallel units, even though none is particularly lengthy.

23. The Minister may issue a permit for a project if the permit application is supported by an environmental assessment report, the permit approval committee has evaluated the permit application, a majority of the members of the committee support the application and the Minister considers that any likely environmental harm is insignificant

should be paragraphed as

23. The Minister may issue a permit for a project if

  • (a) the permit application is supported by an environmental assessment report;

  • (b) the permit approval committee has evaluated the permit application;

  • (c) a majority of the members of the committee support the application; and

  • (d) the Minister considers that any likely environmental harm is insignificant.


Grammatical equivalence

  • Do not paragraph in a way that results in grammatically unequal paragraphs.

A licence may not be revoked or suspended

  • (a) except with the consent of the holder; or

  • (b) unless notice of intention to revoke or suspend the licence has been given to the holder and the holder has been given a chance to respond to the notice.

should be paragraphed as

A licence may not be revoked or suspended unless

  • (a) the holder consents; or

  • (b) notice of intention to revoke or suspend the licence has been given to the holder and the holder has been given a chance to respond to the notice.


Modifiers

  • Every modifier in a parallel unit must modify either the same thing in the opening words or something within the parallel unit itself.

3) A person is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction if the person is referred to in

  • (a) subsection (1) and does not provide the notice required by that subsection within 7 days after the explosion; and

  • (b) subsection (2) and does not provide the notice required by that subsection within 120 after the series of explosions.

should be divided into two subsections:

(3) A person referred to in subsection (1) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction if the person does not provide the notice required by that subsection within 7 days after the explosion.

(4) A person referred to in subsection (2) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction if the person does not provide the notice required by that subsection within 120 days after the explosion.

Finally, watch out for the following

25. Every person who contravenes the regulations is guilty

  • (a) of an indictable offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for not more than 10 years; or

  • (b) of a summary conviction offence and liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.

which should be paragraphed as

25. Every person who contravenes the regulations is

  • (a) guilty of an indictable offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for not more than 10 years; or

  • (b) guilty of a summary conviction offence and liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.


Ambiguity

  • Paragraph when it is the best way to avoid ambiguity.

24. The Governor in Council may make regulations declaring that all or part of the National Fire Code of Canada, as amended from time to time, and any other code or standard, as amended from time to time, respecting any materials, equipment or appliances used or installed in a building, structure or premises, has the force of law as if it were part of this Act.

should be paragraphed as

24. The Governor in Council may make regulations declaring that all or part of the following documents have the force of law as if they were part of this Act:

  • (a) the National Fire Code of Canada, as amended from time to time; and

  • (b) any other code or standard, as amended from time to time, respecting any materials, equipment or appliances used or installed in a building, structure or premises.


Continuity

  • Do not paragraph in a way that chops up the text into units that have little meaning when separated from their surrounding words or that splits and mingles grammatical units.

This example is too chopped-up to be easily readable:

25. If the Minister decides that a permit application is

  • (a) properly

    • (i) completed, and
    • (ii) signed, and
  • (b) submitted by a person who is

    • (i) qualified, or
    • (ii) approved,

    the Minister may grant the application by

  • (c) issuing, and

  • (d) signing

the permit.


Subdivision

  • Be careful about subdividing paragraphed units. Paragraphing beyond the level of subparagraphs makes it more difficult for readers to maintain the continuity of the sentence.
  • Consider using multiple sentences rather than trying to express everything in one sentence.

24. The Minister may issue a permit if

  • (a) the applicant has submitted

    • (i) a certificate from a financial institution stating that the applicant

      • (A) has a chequing account in good standing with the financial institution,

      • (B) has not defaulted on any outstanding loans with the financial institution,

      • (C) …,

    • (ii) a list of …; and

  • (b) the Minister is satisfied that …

should be divided into two sentences

24. (1) The Minister may issue a fishing permit if

  • (a) the applicant has submitted an application that includes the required documentation; and

  • (b) the Minister is satisfied that …

(2) The required documentation is

  • (a) a certificate from a financial institution stating that the applicant

    • (i) has a chequing account in good standing with the financial institution,
    • (ii) …
  • (b) a list of …

For more on simplifying complex sentences, see Part 2.


Clause sandwiches

  • Try to avoid clause sandwiches because they often separate important elements of a sentence, for example, by putting the subject in the opening words and the main verb in the tail section.
  • Multi-layered clause sandwiches are particularly difficult to understand.
  • The separation problem does not occur when the tail section forms another sentence or a complete clause

24. The Minister may, if

  • (a) an applicant pays the prescribed fee, and

  • (b) the applicant is of good character

issue a licence to the applicant.

should be paragraphed as

24. The Minister may issue a licence to an applicant if the applicant

  • (a) pays the prescribed fee; and

  • (b) is of good character.

In this example, the tail section is a sentence:

(7) An acquisition or a lease may be authorized under this Act in relation to

  • (a) real property in a condominium project or an immovable under divided co-ownership; or

  • (b) real property or an immovable in a co-operative project.

The authorization also constitutes the authority for the acquisition of a share, membership interest or ownership interest in the relevant condominium corporation …

In this example, the tail section is a complete clause:

(7) If an acquisition or a lease is authorized under this Act in relation to

  • (a) real property in a condominium project or an immovable under divided co-ownership, or

  • (b) real property or an immovable in a co-operative project,

the authorization also constitutes the authority for the acquisition of a share, membership interest or ownership interest in the relevant condominium corporation …


How to avoid clause sandwiches

  • Clause sandwiches can sometimes be avoided by dividing a sentence into a series of sentences.

129. Every permit authorizing a person to temporarily store a particular prohibited firearm or restricted firearm

  • (a) that was issued under subsection 110(3.1) of the former Act,

  • (b) that had not been revoked before the commencement day, and

  • (c) that remained in force pursuant to subsection 110(3.3) of the former Act on the commencement day

continues in force until the expiration of the period for which it was expressed to be issued, unless it is revoked by a chief firearms officer for any good and sufficient reason.

can be divided into 2 sentences

129.

  • (1) A temporary storage permit continues in force until the expiration of the period for which it was expressed to be issued, unless it is revoked by a chief firearms officer for any good and sufficient reason.

  • (2) For the purposes of this section, a temporary storage permit is a permit authorizing a person to temporarily store a particular prohibited firearm or restricted firearm that

    • (a) was issued under subsection 110(3.1) of the former Act;

    • (b) had not been revoked before the commencement day; and

    • (c) remained in force pursuant to subsection 110(3.3) of the former Act on the commencement day.

Date de modification :