When “must” doesn’t work, I use “will”, “shall´” or something else. (1995) A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, 2nd edition. Your email address will not be published. These are the only valid word choices to convey those meanings. Learn about upcoming events and get the latest news from the federal plain language community.

But in your next breath, be sure to say "yes, shall is a perfectly good word, but it's not a perfectly good word of obligation.". Hi.

However, shall is used more in legal circles while must is used more often by common people. Rob Lunn is a freelance legal translator based in Spain. Should — the neglected siblings of Must vs. Shall Most people already know that only the word "must" and not the word "shall" imposes a legal obligation on readers. Examples: "Should" also means optional but implies that the writer recommends and advises the reader to use that option. If it’s just to add variety (i.e., you’re using them interchangeably for obligations of the parties in a contract), then I can understand that someone might want you to make changes because you’re not being consistent. . I’m sure you’ll remember that we talked a lot about “shall” when we were doing our MAs in legal translation. ", Bryan Garner, the legal writing scholar and editor of Black's Law Dictionary wrote that "In most legal instruments, shall violates the presumption of consistency … which is why shall is among the most heavily litigated words in the English language. What comes to my mind is classifying the different prescriptions for using shall in contracts and comparing them with how shall is actually used in contracts by translators and drafters (maybe what drafters do is the most important, so you could forget about translators), breaking it down by type of drafter/translator (experience, jurisidiction working in, where and how trained) and type of contract. Don't go through this tedious process. Mainly because the text that had inspired the code, AUSIT’s code of ethics, used present tense. This could be a possible reason for the seemingly arbitrary documentation requirement. That’s a tough one. – Keith Thompson Feb 4 '13 at 19:34 @KeithThompson - that's a good point, and you're right. When should “should” be used in documentation? The word shall is used to express ideas related to specific rules or laws. (The Geilber Court could have easily drawn the same conclusion if Rule 552 had contained “must” instead of “shall”). Even the Supreme Court ruled that when the word "shall" appears in statutes, it means "may. If you happen to work within the framework of DO-178 or DO-254 guidelines, these have their own definitions for requirements in general and derived requirements. You should do the same. During this transition, "must" remains the safe, enlightened choice not only because it imposes clarity on the concept of obligation, but also because it does not contradict any instance of "shall" in the CFRs." Take a look at any EU directive, for instance. . As a rule, I try to avoid “shall” in legislation and legislation-type documents. So for me it’s a no-brainer: don’t use “shall” because most drafting guidelines from common-law jurisdictions says not to. Yep, I’m going with D. Remember, when you want something to be mandatory – like a settlement agreement that requires both sides to do something – use the word must instead of shall , and you’ll have a document that carries with it a firm legal obligation. email: bruce.corsino@faa.gov, Page last modified: March 12, 2020 11:37:39 AM EDT, This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/plain_language/articles/mandatory/, The Federal Register Document Drafting Handbook (Section 3), The Federal Plain Language Guidelines (page 25). If that's news to you, a past article covers that topic in detail. Bryan Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English, 2001, pp 105-06.

It's usually wise to ask your attorney for an opinion if you write official words that tell other people what to do. We can only use ‘must’ in the present form to describe a general or permanent obligation, or an obligation in the near future. It means you have no choice but to do (or not do) an action. Must and shall are words in English language that have similar meanings.

What about the difference between "may" and "should?"

Must vs Shall. Should = recommended. What is a proper way to tape a 6” round hole from can light? Also, "must not" are the only words you can use to say something is prohibited. . I pulled that line from the answer. Writing 79 (1992). . One reason for using “shall” might be where the text is being inserted into an Act that already uses it. I agree with you on shall vs. must, though. If that's news to you, a past article covers that topic in detail. 1995), pages 939-942. Whether you use shall or must really depends upon the rest of the document that you are writing within and what makes grammatical sense for that particular sentence. Has there been a naval battle where a boarding attempt backfired?

But I’m guessing you already know all that and are not mixing them inconsistently. Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms. The Federal Plain Writing Act and the Federal Plain Language Guidelines only appeared in 2010. So yes, you're wrong. But what’s the linguistic reason for not using “shall” in legislation?

First, lawyers regularly misuse it to mean something other than “has a duty to.” It has become so corrupted by misuse that it has no firm meaning. I have been queried a few times about my use of “shall” in contracts. shall, should, must, should be used for specifying the requirements. – user53019 Feb 4 '13 at 19:39. To do that, or for questions or comments about this article, please contact: Dr. Bruce V. Corsino

In fact, “must” is the only word that imposes a legal obligation that something is mandatory. I came across this problem when I was revising the translation of APTIC’s code of ethics. Shall and should are both modal verbs. MUST NOT – This phrase, or the phrase “SHALL NOT”, means that the definition is an absolute prohibition of the specification. The main one is ambiguity. I sent out an email earlier reminding our developers that, the use of Surely it would be “The train will arrive tomorrow noon”.

. It is also used to express physical necessity.

At least be consistent in the one document. @KeithThompson - that's a good point, and you're right. • Shall connotes weightiness and looks pretentious while must looks natural while speaking. Drafters should not use “must” and “shall” together in the same Act or regulation. If that's news to you, a past article covers that topic in detail. Second—and related to the first—it breeds litigation. The verb will derives from Old English willan, meaning to want or wish. How important is the gate threshold voltage on a MOSFET, Reference request: Examples of research on a set with interesting properties which turned out to be the empty set, Can someone re-license my BSD-3-licensed project under the MIT license, remove my copyright notices, and list me as a "collaborator" without consent. Best approach to safely bump up version of classes. 1955: When Marty couldn't use the time circuits anymore was the car still actually driveable? In such documents, “shall” or something else usually sounds better than “must”. What is the reason for the date of the Georgia runoff elections for the US Senate? How to document non-functional requirements in User Stories? The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119. Both the DO-178 and the DO-254 are commercial guideline documents used for avionics software and electronics development, and only available for a fee from www.rtca.org. It is also used to emphasize a strong determination that a future event will occur.



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