Ipswich lawyer seeks meaning in ‘language of Brexit’
PUBLISHED: 16:46 11 June 2019
Lawyers are set to dissect the language of Brexit at a business academy event.
Ipswich law firm Prettys will be getting to grips with interpreting language in contracts, and applying those principles to some of the words used around the UK's withdrawal from Europe.
Senior associate Andrew Kinnison said since the referendum in 2016, buzzwords and phrases such as 'article 50' and 'withdrawal agreement' had emerged, but their meaning had been the source of confusion.
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"Since the vote, there has been some criticism of the ballot, specifically with the use of the words 'leave' and 'remain', as well as the fact there were only two options to choose from," he said.
"I actually agree that there should not have been more than two options on the ballot paper, as it needed to be a binary vote - it's in or out, leave or remain. If you have more than two options, as some have suggested, you risk diluting the vote."
But while the options of leave or remain seem like a clear choice, some people, particularly on social media, have interpreted words in a different way, including politicians, and potentially stretching words to suit their own political agenda, he said.
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"Some have said 'leave' means to permanently depart, but this has been countered with those who say when you leave your house to go to work you are not leaving forever.
"It is important to say that the referendum was advisory and in no way a contractual document. The principles that I discuss on contract interpretation are being used by analogy."
Mr Kinnison, who is used to interpreting contracts and documents through his work as a barrister, and now as a solicitor, said a golden rule was to interpret them in their grammatical and ordinary sense - and in context.
"We look at the language in accordance with how it is conventionally used and in a way that can be understood by any reasonable person," he said.
Mr Kinnison will be sharing his knowledge on 'deconstructing the language of Brexit' at Prettys' Business Academy on Thursday June 13, at Hylands House in Chelmsford from 8am to 10.30am.
Colleague Graham Mead will look at how to avoid making a dispute worse during litigation.
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