In this blogpost, Divyaish Srivastva, Student, Shri HCPG College, Varanasi, writes about the meaning of drafting, what is a draft, principles that govern drafting, the do’s and dont’s which need to be followed while drafting.

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Meaning of Drafting

Drafting is a science and can be acquired only by long practice. In simple terms, drafting refers to the act of writing legal documents. The key feature of drafting is that it presents a brief knowledge about the significant facts of the situation or issue. Drafting demands a lot of skills combined with patience from the advocates. A properly drafted document aims at accuracy and truth.

The whole process of drafting should follow three drafts before it is ready to be presented before the authority. These drafts and their purposes are:-

  • The first draft:- Aims at the comprehensiveness and fullness of the facts.
  • The second draft:- Aims at the improving of the first draft by the correction of the form and the language by a considerable amount of trimming.
  • The final draft:- As the name suggests, it aims at giving a final touch and the finish up to make the document authoritative and able to convince.

 What is a “draft” ?

In a general sense, it is an outline of a document or of something that needs to be done. One may prepare it as a rough sketch of a document from which a final document is prepared.

Terminology

Draftsman: One who draws documents like a will, gift deed etc.

Dragoman: One who interprets pleadings and other writings.

What principles govern “Drafting” ?

The process of drafting is generally governed by 4 principles:

  • Formation of outline in a satisfactory manner: -“the draft is the skeleton of a document.” This statement suggests that the prepared draft should be elaborate and should address all important issues. In a nutshell, a draft should be:
    • As detailed as possible
    • Not be vague[1]
    • Able to fulfill the consideration of relevancy, content unity, chronology[2] and coherence[3].
    • Such that every paragraph should contain one major point.
  • Emphasis on the arrangement of facts: – A deep emphasis should be put on the manner in which the facts of the case are arranged. The facts should be arranged step by step to reflect an organized analysis of the problem. There must be uniformity and consistency in the presentment of ideas.
  • Style and language: – Style is an important factor for the transport of ideas. A clear presentation is an essential requirement for clear thinking. The style should be simple with the most appropriate use of legal terms that would convey the facts in a precise and simple manner. The language too should be simple and faultless. Illogical paragraphing, poor punctuation, incorrect spelling and other such language that virtually render a promising document to be worthless shall be avoided. Repetitions should be avoided.
  • Physical characteristics: – The draft should be typed on standard quality paper (20 by 30 cms) with margins of 4 cms. at the top and left side and 2.5 to 4 cms. on the right side and bottom.

Other physical characteristics include:-

  • Numbering of each page
  • Numbering of preliminaries in Roman Numbers (i , ii , iii) and Main Text in Arabic (1, 2, 3 etc.)
  • Number of pages should appear in the upper right corner 2.5 cms., from the top and side
  • The body of the document to be double spaced normally.
  • Each paragraph should be intended 5 spaces and every paragraph should be numbered.
  • All sheets to be strongly tied together.

Rules of “Drafting.”

Following set of rules should be followed: –

  • Before making a draft, a design of it should first be conceived.
  • One should make sure that none of the facts are omitted or admitted at random.
  • Negative statements should generally be avoided.
  • Technical language should be followed.
  • The legal language employed should be precise and accurate.
  • Draft should be readily[4] intelligible[5]
  • Due care and attention should be placed on the rules of legal interpretation and the case law pertaining to the related matter.
  • The drafted document should be clearly understood by a person who has competent knowledge of the subject matter.
  • The draft should be self-explanatory as far as possible.
  • The draft should be divided into paras and each para should contain a distinct subject matter.
  • Arrangement of facts should be done logically
  • Use numbers and letters for sub-clauses and paragraphs.
  • Choices of words should be such that they easily convey the meaning of the writer.
  • The words used should reflect politeness in order to convey more in a kind, natural and justifiable manner.
  • The draft should be read once or twice before passing it for consideration.
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Let’s understand more about the quality of words required to be used

The draftsman should keep in mind that his words reflect the quality of the draft. And therefore, he must be very cautious about his choice of words. Following points should be kept in mind: –

  • Words should be used in the same sense.
  • Active voice should always be preferred over passive voice until the passive voice makes the meaning clearer.
  • Paragraphs, in modern usage, should not be started with the word ‘that’ as was done traditionally.
  • The draft should not all things at once. One thing at a time should always be preferred.

DO’S and DON’TS

DO’S

  • For improving the quality of the draft, a group of words should be reduced to one.
  • One simple word for a group should be formulated.
  • Shorter sentences should be written
  • Add periods
  • Express the whole idea in few words
  • Prefer active over passive
  • Make verbs work
  • Choose the right word
  • Know the motive behind writing
  • Write from the reader’s point of view
  • Make an outline (mental or written)

DON’TS

  • Avoid moving around about constructions
  • Avoid unnecessary repetitions
  • Avoid using words containing similar sounds
  • Avoid cumulative negative statements
  • Avoid typing mistakes

 

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Reference:
 

[1] lacking clarity or distinctness

[2] recording events in the order of their occurrence

[3] logical and orderly and consistent relation of parts

[4] Without much difficulty

[5] capable of being apprehended or understood

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