Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong: A Guide to Styles and Practices
(Law Drafting Division, Department of Justice)

Flashcards

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The following is a list of archaic forms of modern and shorter prepositions. They should no longer be used in legislation —“abovementioned”, “aforementioned”, “aforesaid”, “said”
“herein”, “hereinafter”, “hereinbefore”
“hereby”, “hereof”, “hereto”, “herewith”
“whatsoever”, “whomsoever”, “whosoever”
“whereon”, “whereupon”
“wheretofore”, “wheresoever”.
The “there” words in the list below (still found in existing legislation) should also be avoided. As the examples in this paragraph illustrate, they can easily be replaced by a more commonplace preposition or the relevant noun. This will be in line with modern usage and also the meaning will be clearer.“thereby”, “therefor”, “therefrom”
“therein”, “thereof”, “thereon”, “thereto”
“thereupon”, “thereunder”, “thereunto”, “therewith”
Instead of:

An order under section X must, for each water zone constituted thereby …
Consider:

An order under section X must, for each water zone constituted by the order …
Instead of:

A person who registers a covenant must pay compensation for any damages caused thereby.
Consider:

A person who registers a covenant must pay compensation for any damages caused by the registration.
Instead of:

The Board may renew the registration if the social worker makes an application to the Board therefor.

If the Board rejects the application the Board must notify the applicant of the reasons therefor.
Consider:

The Board may renew the registration if the social worker makes an application for renewal to the Board.

If the Board rejects the application the Board must notify the applicant of the reasons [for the rejection].
Instead of:

… may enter a car park and remove any vehicle therefrom.
Consider:

… may enter a car park and remove any vehicle [from it]/[there].
Instead of:

… that the document was signed at the time specified therein …
Consider:

… that the document was signed at the time specified in it …
Instead of:

… may examine and search a vehicle and anything therein or thereon.
Consider:

… may examine and search a vehicle and anything in or on [the vehicle]/[it].
Instead of:

… the Register and any part thereof …
Consider:

… the Register and any part of [it]/[the Register] …
Instead of:

… a bus and every deck thereof …
Consider:

… a bus and every deck of the bus …
Instead of:

… the amount or interest thereon …
Consider:

… the amount or interest on [it]/[the amount] …
Instead of:

… certificate with the amount endorsed thereon …
Consider:

… certificate with the amount endorsed on it …
Instead of:

… passport and an amendment thereto …
Consider:

… passport and an amendment to [it]/[the passport] …
Instead of:

… and the traffic signs and road markings pertaining thereto …
Consider:

… and the traffic signs and road markings pertaining to [them]/[those]/[the signs and markings] …
Instead of:

… the Ordinance and regulations made thereunder …
Consider:

… the Ordinance and regulations made under [it]/[the Ordinance] …
Instead of:

… permit any person thereunto authorized by the Commissioner …
Consider:

… permit any person authorized by the Commissioner …
Instead of:

If a person … ceases to act for the principal, the person thereupon ceases to be an accredited agent.
Consider:

[If]/[when] a person … ceases to act for the principal, the person ceases to be an accredited agent.
Instead of:

On the determination of the rights and liabilities, the Company is thereupon liable …
Consider:

On the determination of the rights and liabilities, the Company is liable …
Instead of:

Construction operations or any work connected therewith …
Consider:

Construction operations or any work connected with [them]/[those works] …
Archaic terminology: “same”Avoid the archaic practice of using “same” as a substitute for a pronoun or a noun.
Instead of:

On the commencement date, the property vests in the Board on the terms and conditions on which the same was vested …
Consider:

On the commencement date, the property vests in the Board on the terms and conditions on which [it]/[the property] was vested …
Instead of:

A certificate that the notice was posted … is evidence that the same was sent …
Consider:

A certificate that the notice was posted … is evidence that [the notice]/[it] was sent …
Instead of:

An authorized officer may seize any food or drugs and any package in which the same was contained …
Consider:

An authorized officer may seize any food or drugs and any package in which [they]/[the food or drugs] were contained …
Archaic terminology: “save”Avoid the archaic use of “save” as a substitute for “except”, “but” or “unless”.
Instead of:

A permit holder must, on receiving a notice under section …, save where the notice …
Consider:

A permit holder must, on receiving a notice under section …, except if the notice relates …
Instead of:

Save where the contrary intention appears …
Consider:

Unless the contrary intention appears …

Except where the contrary intention appears …
Instead of:

Save and except with the permission of the Director …
Consider:

Except with the permission of the Director …
Instead of:

…, this section applies save to the extent …
Consider:

…, this section applies except to the extent …
Instead of:

Save as provided in this section …
Consider:

Except as provided in this section …
Instead of:

… activate any emergency or safety device on the railway premises save for the express purpose for which the same is provided and in accordance with the instructions printed thereon.
Consider:

… activate any emergency or safety device on the railway premises except for the express purpose for which [it]/[the device] is provided and in accordance with the instructions printed on [it]/[the device].
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “any”, “all”, “each” and “every”In some contexts the use of these determiners is necessary and appropriate (e.g. “a penalty of [amount] for each/every day the contravention continues ... ” and “the resolution must be signed by each/every member/all the members). However they should not be used unnecessarily. For example, do not use “any” if “a” or “an” can be used instead.
Instead of:

Any person who contravenes a condition … commits an offence.
Consider:

A person who contravenes a condition … commits an offence.
Instead of:

Every licensee must keep a record of transactions …
Consider:

A licensee must keep a record of transactions …
Instead of:

All persons within the controlled area must wear protective clothing …
Consider:

[A]/[Any] person within the controlled area must wear protective clothing …
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “as the case may be"The expression “as the case may be” is often used unnecessarily in legal writing. Avoid it, but if without it there can be ambiguity, consider recasting the provision.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “as the case may require” etc.Avoid the expression “as the case may require”, but if necessary, say “as the case requires”. In any event consider whether the use of the following is necessary in the context and whether the intended meaning is clearly conveyed—

“as the case requires”
“as the circumstances require”
“as applicable”
“as may be applicable”
“so far as applicable”
“as appropriate”
“where appropriate”
“wherever appropriate”
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “cause to be …”When granting administrative powers or imposing duties, it is not necessary to say, for example, “The Director must cause to be published”. “The Director must publish” is sufficient.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “commencing on”Instead of “commencing on”, consider “beginning on”, which is more in touch with contemporary usage.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “contravene”Note that section 3 of the IGCO defines “contravene” to include a failure to comply. Therefore it is not necessary to say “A person who contravenes or fails to comply with …”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “day next preceding” and “day next following”Avoid these expressions. Instead, say “the day before” or “the day after”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “existing”, “before” and “after”The words “existing”, “before” and “after” should be related to a particular point in time or the happening of a particular event.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “expiration”Instead of “expiration”, consider “end”, but if that is not appropriate, use “expiry”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “foregoing”Instead of using “foregoing”, identify the reference. For example, instead of “despite anything in the foregoing provisions …”, cite the provisions.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “for the avoidance of doubt”The best practice is to use clear and unambiguous wording so that there is no doubt. If there is a good reason for using it, say “to avoid doubt” and not “for the avoidance of doubt”
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “for the purposes of …”Too general or unspecific uses of the expression “for the purposes of” should be avoided. For example, “For the purposes of this Ordinance …” is almost always uninformative and therefore superfluous. It is better to be specific about the purpose to be achieved or to refer to a specific provision.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “if and only if”The expression “if and only if” should not be used.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “including but not limited to”Use only “including”. However, “including but not limited to” can be used if without it the definition may be mistakenly interpreted as referring to a class only.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “in a case”, “in the case of ... ” and “in the case where”Avoid these phrases and use only if there is no alternative. In some cases “for” or “if” could be suitable substitutes for all these expressions. They are used mostly in provisions that are divided into paragraphs to deal with a series of alternatives.
Instead of:

The training period, in a case to which section 6 applies, is …

The training period, except in a case to which section 6 applies, is …
Consider:

The training period, if section 6 applies, is …

The training period, except if section 6 applies, is …
Instead of:

The application must be made—
(a) in the case of a partnership, by the …
(b) in the case of a sole proprietorship, by the …
(c) in the case of a company, by the …
Consider:

The application must be made—
(a) for a partnership, by the …
(b) for a sole proprietorship, by the …
(c) for a company, by the …
Instead of:

The fee to be paid—
(a) in the case of a ship registered in Hong Kong is …
(b) in the case of a foreign ship is …
(c) in the case of a local vessel is …
Consider:

The fee to be paid—
(a) for a ship registered in Hong Kong is …
(b) for a foreign ship is …
(c) for a local vessel is …
Instead of:

The training period—
(a) in the case of a person appointed under section 6, is 12 months;
(b) in the case of a person appointed under section 7, is 6 months; and
(c) in any other case, is 3 months.
Consider:

The training period—
(a) for a person appointed under section 6 is 12 months;
(b) for a person appointed under section 7 is 6 months; and
(c) in any other case, is 3 months.

or

(a) if the person is appointed under section 6, is 12 months;
Instead of:

The Registrar must give a written notice—
(a) in the case where the Member is a company incorporated in Hong Kong, …; and
(b) in the case where the Member is a company incorporated outside Hong Kong, …
Consider:

The Registrar must give a written notice—
(a) if the Member is a company incorporated in Hong Kong, …; and
(b) if the Member is a company incorporated outside Hong Kong, …
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “it is declared”The expression “it is declared” should not be used unless a declaration is actually required.
Instead of:

For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that an order made under section X …
Consider:

To avoid doubt, an order made under section X …
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “it is the duty of” and “it is lawful for”Avoid “it is the duty of” and use “a person must” or another substitute for “must” as is appropriate in the context. Unless there is a special reason to use it, do not say “it is lawful for”. Instead, say “a person may”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “less than”, “more than” and similar words and phrasesWhen using expressions “less than”, “more than”, “greater than”, “smaller than”, “above”, “below”, “not exceeding” and “exceeding”, make sure that each scenario is provided for and nothing is left out. For example, a provision that says what happens at “a speed of more than 50 km/h” and at “a speed of less than 50 km/h” does not cover what happens at “a speed of 50 km/h”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “notwithstanding”Avoid “notwithstanding” and say “despite” instead. (It is now the practice of LDD to use “despite” in contexts in which “notwithstanding” had been used. This applies even if the existing enactment uses “notwithstanding”.)
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “such”The word “such” is frequently overused in legal writing. It is entirely acceptable to use “such” to refer back to something mentioned previously. However, do not use “such” as a substitute for “the”, “that” or “any”.
Instead of:

give such particulars as [are]/[may be] required by the Director …
Consider:

give the particulars required by the Director …
Instead of:

… must be in such form as may be specified by the Commission …
Consider:

… must be in a form specified by the Commission …
Instead of:

… submit an application and in such application …
Consider:

… submit an application and in [the]/[that] application …
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “under and in accordance with”Avoid using “under” and “in accordance with” together. Use “under section X” to refer to the provision that gives the power. Use “in accordance with section X” to refer to compliance with section X.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “unless and until”These words should not be used together. (Use “unless” to introduce a condition and “until” to introduce a time limit.)
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “upon”Use “on” instead of “upon”. For example, say “on receiving ...” not “upon receiving …”, “on conviction on indictment” not “upon conviction on indictment” and “on the death of a person ...” not “upon the death of a person”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “upon the expiration of”Do not say “upon the expiration of”. If “at the end of” is not appropriate in the context, use “on the expiry of”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “without limiting the generality of” and “without affecting the generality of”In the expressions “without limiting the generality of” and “without affecting the generality”, it is not necessary to use the traditional “the generality of …” because the expressions have the same meaning even without those words.

Therefore, say, for example, “without limiting subsection (X) …” or “without limiting the conditions specified in section Y …” or “without affecting article Z of the UNCITRAL model law …”.
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “without prejudice to the generality of”Avoid the expression “without prejudice to the generality of section X” or “without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing”. Instead, say “without limiting section X …” or “without affecting section X …”. (See paragraph 10.3.10 on the use of “foregoing”.)
Words and Expressions to be Used with Caution: “whichever is the less”Do not say “whichever is the less”. Say “whichever is the lesser” or “whichever is less” as suits the context.
Other Style and Usage Issues: Use of synonymsAs a general rule, to avoid interpretation issues, different words or expressions should not be used to denote the same thing. However, this does not extend to techniques used for the purpose of and in the context of modernizing drafting (e.g. the use of “despite” (instead of “notwithstanding”), “must” (instead of “shall”) or the gender‐neutral “worker” (instead of “workman”)).
Other Style and Usage Issues: “and” and “or”When using these expressions, the intended meaning should be made clear to avoid any ambiguity. For example, the expression “A and B may do X” conveys the following 3 meanings—

A and B jointly may do X
A may do X, B may do X, or both A and B may do X
The single concept of A and B may do X.
Other Style and Usage Issues: “despite” and “subject to”4 If one provision is subordinate to another, a qualification such as “subject to …” may be used at the beginning of the first‐mentioned provision.

Alternatively, the qualification “despite” may be used in the later provision that prevails over the first‐mentioned provision. Either “subject to” or “despite” may be used, but not both together. That is, do not say “subject to section 4 ...” in section 3 and “despite section 3” in section 4.
Other Style and Usage Issues: “If”, “where” and “when”The first choice should be “if”. Use “when” or “where” if the event is so certain that “if” is inappropriate or the use of “if” leads to an awkward construction.
Other Style and Usage Issues: “provisions of”It is usually not necessary to use “the provisions of” when referring to a provision. For example, do not say “subject to the provisions of section 3 …”. Instead, say “subject to section 3 …”.
Other Style and Usage Issues: “That” and “which”As a general rule use “that” for the defining relative clause and “which” for the non‐defining relative clause. However there may be occasions where it is more appropriate to use “which” as a defining relative. Because “that” has no equivalent to “with which” or “to which”, the use of “that” may often result in a sentence ending with a terminal preposition. This is not incorrect but it should be avoided in case the style is distracting to the readers. For example, “… any goods to which this section applies.” is better than “… any goods that this section applies to.”.
Other Style and Usage Issues: use of “deemed” etc.Certain words such as “deemed”, which are generally associated with, or traditionally used to create, legal fictions are sometimes used for other purposes.Before choosing the appropriate word, it is essential to consider the legal effect sought to be created. (For example, consider whether the intention is to create a legal fiction, presumption or neither.)
Instead of:

… as the Registrar deems fit …
Consider:

… as the Registrar [thinks]/[considers] fit …
Instead of:

Nothing in this section is deemed to exempt … a person from …
Consider:

Nothing in this section exempts a person from …
Retrospective commencement—used “deemed”The practice within LDD is to use “deemed” to create the legal fiction of retrospective commencement.

Example

This Ordinance is deemed to have come into operation on 1 July 1997.
Other Style and Usage Issues: Use of “is to be regarded as”, “is taken to be” and “is to be treated as”If a contemporary approach is preferred when creating a legal fiction, plain language terms such as “is to be regarded as”, “is taken to be” and “is to be treated as” can be used. (These terms can also be used for other purposes and in other contexts as well.)
Other Style and Usage Issues: use of “presumed”If the intention is to create a presumption “presumed” is a clear way of expressing it. Note however that other terms such as “is to be regarded as”, “is taken to be” and “is to be treated as” can also be used as long as the purpose of the provision is clear.
Other Style and Usage Issues: declaratory statementsFrom a drafting point of view, if the intention is to make a declaratory statement or to provide a definition, the best practice is to use the present indicative.
Instead of:

The Board is not to be regarded as an agent of the Government.
Consider:

The Board is not an agent of the Government.
Instead of:

An employer is not to be regarded as liable under this section if …
Consider:

An employer is not liable under this section if …
Instead of:

For the purposes of this section, a beauty product is to be treated as part of the personal effects of a person if …
Consider:

For the purposes of this section, a beauty product is part of the personal effects of a person if …

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