What does Brexit really mean? Lawyer deconstructs the language surrounding the debate

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Leading Ipswich based law firm Prettys is holding a Business Academy this week looking at the interpretation of the language in contracts and applying that (by analogy) to some of the words used surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from Europe.

Senior associate Andrew Kinnison, said that since the referendum was held in 2016, there have been a number of buzzwords and phrases such as ‘article 50’ and ‘withdrawal agreement’ which risk causing confusion.

“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,” said Andrew.

“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.

“While the options of leave or remain may seem like a clear choice, some people, particularly on social media, have interpreted words in a different way, including politicians, perhaps stretching words to suit their own political agenda.”

He continued: “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.”

Through his work as a barrister, and now as a solicitor, Andrew is used to interpreting contracts and documents to help his clients.

 “The golden rule we use when looking at contracts is that they need to be interpreted 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.”

Andrew 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-10.30am.

Colleague Graham Mead will also be looking at how to avoid making a dispute worse during litigation.

The team are currently offering their seminars as free in-house programmes to local businesses. To find out more, contact Andrew on 01473 298219 or email akinnison@prettys.co.uk

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