Newcomers to the plain language movement and its literature may accept the basic philosophy, yet continue to use shall in agreements or legislation. In the movement itself, the fate of shall has provoked lively debate.
In her 1992 article entitled "Shall Must Go" , Michele Asprey, an Australian plain language writer and lawyer, says lawyers have used shall as a crutch for too long. She presents two arguments against shall:
is hardly ever used outside the legal community, and non-lawyers don't understand the traditional mandatory nature of the legal shall.
2. Lawyers regularly misuse shall
. Cases which conclude that shall means may are bewildering to non-lawyers. This happens because the drafter got it wrong, and the court had to do its best to correct the mistake.
Asprey's plain language substitutes for shall below achieve greater precision and consistency:
1. Use must
for the imperative shall
2. Use will
for the simple future.
3. Use the present tense for just about everything else.